NEWS RELEASE   16 November, 2023

Kicking Goals for Women in Turf

Crestmead, Queensland (16 November, 2023) — TALENTED female turf specialists from across Australia played a critical behind-the-scenes role in one of the world's biggest sporting events recently, supporting the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium team to prepare for several matches, including the Matildas' group game against Canada.

John Deere's Women in Turf Program joined with the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association (ASTMA) and Brandt Australia, in conjunction with Melbourne & Olympic Parks to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a group of women including apprentices through to experienced managers, selected to bring their expertise to a pitch of exacting international standards.

John Deere and Brandt jointly sponsored three women who took part in the program - Sally Benwell, Superintendent of Centenary Park Golf Course and Sports Ovals at Frankston City Council; Georgie Chandler, Production Assistant at HG Turf Group; and Codi Long, an apprentice in parks and gardens for Greater Bendigo Council.

Ms Benwell leads a team of 16 men responsible for maintaining 68 sporting grounds plus an 18-hole golf course. After a 23-year career working with only males, she said the Women in Turf program was a great opportunity to network with like-minded women with a passion for turf.

"Receiving the call from John Deere to participate in the program was quite a shock, but I'm glad I took this opportunity because it's been a huge highlight of my career so far," she said.

"The program is crucial because women only make up a little over one per cent of the turf industry. It's great to see our role being highlighted and more women being encouraged to pursue it as a career path, because it's a very enjoyable and rewarding job.

"Usually I do my job with no-one watching, so it was quite daunting to work in a full stadium with a huge crowd. The atmosphere was amazing though, and it's something I'll never forget."

Ms Benwell acknowledged the invaluable mentorship of the men she has worked with over her career, but admitted she has faced some quite unusual barriers.

"When I started out there wasn't even female workwear or boots available, so I wore men's gear for about 15 years," she said.

"We've certainly come a long way, and like any industry if you work hard and take opportunities like this you can go anywhere."

John Deere launched its Women in Turf Program earlier this year at the TPS Murray River golf tournament, with six female volunteers working alongside staff at Cobram Barooga Golf Club to prepare the course for the event.

John Deere Australia and New Zealand Golf and Sports Turf Account Manager, Tim Gammage, said the program was an important initiative to support more women joining Australia's prosperous golf and sports turf management sector.

"The program creates equal opportunities, offers personal development for the participants, and really highlights the role women play in the industry," Mr Gammage said.

"This was an amazing opportunity for these women to work at the highest level, preparing the turf for the best international female soccer players in the world."

Beyond line marking, repairing divots and setting up the goals, the Women in Turf program extended to producing the grass for the matches.

Ms Chandler was part of the team at HG Turf involved in preparing the turf at a farm in rural Victoria and harvesting it before it was transported and planted in Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

"It's very satisfying being part of the team that delivered the turf for such a big international tournament," Ms Chandler said.

"We used a hybrid turf made up of natural and synthetic grass, which gives a more consistently smooth surface to play on."

With her full-time role being in parks and gardens, the Women in Turf event was Codi Long's first exposure to sports turf management.

"It was very different to my day-to-day, but a great learning experience to see everything that goes into preparing a world-class sporting field," she said.

"I now have a network of women in the turf industry thanks to this program. I really enjoyed hearing their stories about how they've reached this point in their careers."

All three women said they'd encourage any other females interested in a career in turf to pursue it.

"There's no reason you can't work in turf as a female," Ms Chandler said.

"It's a very rewarding career with lots of variety. If you enjoy being outdoors in the sunshine and doing something more physical, just give it a go!"

video about three volunteers

About John Deere:

Deere & Company is a global leader in the delivery of agricultural, golf & turf, construction, and forestry equipment. We help our customers push the boundaries of what's possible in ways that are more productive and sustainable to help life leap forward. Our technology-enabled products including the John Deere Autonomous 8R Tractor and See & Spray™ are just two of the ways we help meet the world's increasing need for food, shelter, and infrastructure. Deere & Company also provides financial services through John Deere Financial. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at or in Australia at

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Kate Scott
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