Arsenal grounds person leads trailblazing all-female team at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal grounds person Tara Sandford was beaming as she led a trailblazing team at a sold-out Emirates Stadium in the Women’s Super League North London derby.

The all-female grounds team made history as Arsenal claimed bragging rights with a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur thank to a second-half goal from Alessia Russo.

The Women’s Professional Game and Women in Football collaborated with the Grounds Management Association and Arsenal to help thirteen grounds professionals become the first all-female team to work across a WSL game.

Sandford, 27, from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire is Arsenal’s first-ever female grounds person and has been with the club for 18 months.

She hopes the weekend’s showcase can encourage more women and young people to come into the profession and see how fulfilling the role can be.

Tara Sandford: “Arsenal have always been inclusive within the sport; it is important to showcase the other roles within football through this weekend’s event.

“Apprenticeships are an effective way for young girls especially to get into this kind of job, that’s how I started in my role within a council and how I progressed into what I’m doing now.

“I knew from an early age what I wanted to do; I didn’t want to sit in an office most days. I wanted to be outside doing something and this was the perfect role for me.

“I love being outside, being in touch with nature, getting to cut the grass, being with my mates. It is very rewarding when you see your work back and it’s a brilliant place to work.”

Arsenal also fielded an all-female technical team on the day while a female Police Commander took charge of overseeing matchday.

Despite an uplift of women playing sport across all levels, only 2% of the grounds management sector, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s pitches, is female.

With the spotlight on the role model grounds team, it is hoped more women will be inspired to enter the rewarding profession.

Grounds Management Association CEO Geoff Webb said: “Our profession often goes under the radar when it comes to jobs in sport.

“This will benchmark what you can do beyond being a player in sport and open up more opportunities to young girls watching the game.

“We’ve got an incredible group of 13 young women in the profession doing a fantastic job.

“The next point for us is to go from the breakthrough moment to make it a constant, that’s the next challenge.”

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