Challenges and opportunities in these 'interesting times'

When I was younger and first heard that “May you live in interesting times!” was a Chinese curse, I thought they must have it wrong. Surely living in uninteresting times would be worse?

The past few weeks have reminded me of that initial assessment.

With the number of huge, global news stories breaking in the past month, there was a bit of news that went under the radar of most. And that was that there is a likelihood that the European Commission will, within six years, prohibit the sale of intentionally added microplastics – which would include polymeric infill in synthetic turf systems.

So what does that mean for us, here in a post-Brexit UK?

For one it will, and should, raise questions in the UK about the use of such materials.

With an estimated 75 per cent of SAPCA members being involved, at some level, in the business of adding infills (often shredded tyres) to synthetic pitches, the European Commission’s move is obviously a considerable issue for SAPCA members. It is, therefore, one that I’m keen that we at SAPCA show leadership and proactiveness on.

Awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability, and for sustainable practices to be considered in all areas of life and business, is growing. This means that now is not the time to be protectionist about the role played by the sports and play construction industry.

The positive health outcomes and the existing work being done by our industry, such as recycling pitches, using recycled materials in products and creating alternative, organic infills, must be voiced and be part of the debate that is heading our way. Alongside this must be our willingness to adapt to change and to respond to the demands of the market and its regulations.

With challenges come opportunities. For SAPCA and our members, the opportunity is to position ourselves – and to be recognised by governing bodies and partners – as the voice of high-quality operators within the sports and play construction industry. A positive response to change will always be better than being forced into change.

As I fast approach the “milestone” of my first 100 days as SAPCA CEO, the value of the association, as an organisation that brings together a hugely important industry, has never been clearer to me. As we continue to travel through interesting times, I hope that I was right about them being preferable all along.

About Richard Shaw

Richard Shaw is Chief Executive of SAPCA