Jasmine Nicholls, who is part the groundstaff at Headingley, will join an all-women grounds team from various industries and make history as they prepare the pitch at the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal’s Barclays Women’s Super League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday 3 March. 

With over 50,000 tickets already sold for the game, this landmark moment will mark a significant milestone for women’s sport and the role of women in making sport possible. 

In the months leading up to the match, the BWSL and Women in Football have collaborated with the Grounds Management Association [GMA] and Arsenal to help 13 grounds professionals become the first all-female grounds team to work across a BWSL game. 

Jasmine will be part of the trailblazing group of women, led by Tara Sandford, a groundsperson at Arsenal FC, who will take centre stage, honing the Emirates Stadium’s pitch ahead of March’s north London derby.  

Jasmine Nicholls, who is part of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s groundstaff team, will be part of the first all-female grounds team to work across a BWSL game on the weekend. 

The 27-year-old, who was part of the award-winning all-female ground staff that produced the pitch for the England Women’s Ashes T20 at Edgbaston in July last year, admits to being blown away by the opportunity. 

 “It’s a great initiative to be part of,” she said. “It will be fantastic to see the Emirates packed out for the game and I’m looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere and being involved.  

 “For me it’s very exciting to go and experience pitch preparations in a different sport and venue, and be together to showcase the female groundstaff team. 

 “It’s important to be visible, not just to inspire more women to be involved in the turf industry, but also to inspire more people into the industry in general.” 

Two of the trailblazing group  – Arsenal ground staff Bobbie Murphy and Tara – have already kicked-off proceedings by working the club’s Premier League fixture against Newcastle United last weekend.  

For the sport to function smoothly, it is essential that pitches and grass playing surfaces are well-maintained to ensure matches can take place and player safety is maximised. 

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

With Arsenal providing the stage, the BWSL, GMA and Women in Football will be helping the 13 professionals prepare the pitch for the match, in turn shining a spotlight on the vital contribution of women to sport, with the aim of encouraging more to consider roles in grounds management. 

Pictured from left: Bobbie Murphy and Tara-Sandford

The 13 women involved come from different venues across a variety of sporting and educational facilities and will be led by Tara, groundsperson at Arsenal FC, who when reflecting on the initiative, said: “Being a part of the first all-female grounds team to prepare a Barclays Women’s Super League match has been hugely exciting for me on both a personal and professional level. 

“The consistent level of support we have seen for our women’s team this season shows how much the game continues to grow, and it’s important that we harness this to encourage more girls to pursue a career in football. 

“I hope our all-female grounds team showcases the different opportunities that exist within football and inspires more women to get into the game.”

With the team’s work marking an important moment for women’s sport, and women more widely, Nikki Doucet, CEO of the Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, said: “The Women’s Professional Game and Football Association are very proud to be a part of this showcase event, bringing some of the brightest talents working within our industry and beyond deservedly to the fore.

“There are so many incredible women working not only throughout football, but across many other industries too, and it is amazing that we have been able to bring 13 of the country’s most highly rated female ground staff together to play such a crucial role for a tentpole fixture in our calendar.”

Jasmine, who previously stepped into the rugby sphere when she was part of the groundstaff team at Leicester Tigers and helped prepare the pitch ahead of the clash against Bath Rugby at the end of last year, is also set for a busy year ahead at Headingley.  

She will help prepare the Headingley pitch for YCCC across all formats, alongside the YCCC award-winning team – led by Head of Grounds Richard Robinson.  

There is also the exciting prospect of two IT20s – with England Women taking on Pakistan on Sunday 19 May, before the men’s teams go head-to head on Wednesday 22 May. Later in the year, England will take on Australia in an ODI on Saturday 21 September. 

YCCC ground staff pictured clearing the water from the ground after heavy rain during day 3 of the Ashes test between England and Australia last Summer.

She said: “There is a lot of usage on the pitch – and no matter what the weather throws at us, and scheduling, the pitch will always be ready.  

“It’s a great team to be part of and no matter what the pressures are we will always find a way and have the best standards for every team.”

 For the future Jasmine added she will continue to make herself visible in her role and hopefully inspire more into the industry. 

 She said: “I want to play my part in making it normal for women to be in every job possible in cricket.   

 “One special memory I remember from last year was during the Hundred there was a little girl outside the garage, and she turned round and said – ‘that’s the ground shed where the men and women work’.  

 “It was that additional bit from that little girl, who must have only been about five-years-old, that made me think if I can inspire or change that mindset in someone as young as that, then hopefully we can continue it across all the roles in cricket.  

 “It’s not one of those things that will just change overnight – but for me I will take every opportunity I have to be out in the middle of this pitch to show that you can be out there, no matter who you are.”

 The match takes place on Sunday 3 March 2024 at Emirates Stadium, kicking-off at 12.30pm, and will be broadcast live on BBC Two. 

 The group will consist of: 

  • Alexia Doughty (Apprentice groundsperson at Stratford Sports Club) 
  • Beth Gibbs (Groundsperson at Wellington School) 
  • Bobbie Murphy (Apprentice groundsperson at Arsenal Football Club) 
  • Carlie Lambert (Apprentice groundsperson for Worcestershire County Cricket Club) 
  • Emily Geach (Volunteer groundsperson at Boconnoc Cricket Club and Tormarton Cricket Club)
  • Georgie Grimes (Groundsperson for the FA at St George’s Park)
  • Jasmine Nicholls (Groundsperson for Yorkshire County Cricket Club) 
  • Liddy Ford (Groundsperson for the FA at St George’s Park) 
  • Meg Lay (Groundsperson at Lord’s, Marylebone Cricket Club) 
  • Phoebe Taylorson (Apprentice groundperson at Middlesbrough Football Club) 
  • Rachel Hunter-Worrall (Groundperson at Queen Ethelburga’s School in York) 
  • Zibby Parker (Part time groundsperson at Ipswich Town FC and Essex County Cricket Club) 

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