As some of you may know, the Kallang Squash Centre is set to be removed for the Kallang region development set to be completed in 2025. Up to now, there are no concrete plans in place to have our iconic venue replaced anywhere on the island.
Singapore is not the only country falling prey to such decisions. In England, the iconic Lambs Club in London is one prime example when it was taken down some time back. The club has been dubbed the Wimbledon of squash, with their court number two having played host to legends like Jahangir Khan and Geoff Hunt, and was also the base of former world number one Peter Nicol.
In both cases, under-utilisation of the facilities is one main reason for the retirement of the venues. This is directly correlated with the global issue our sport is facing – dwindling growth numbers. What better way to help this cause than having an activity to welcome new players to the sport on World Squash Day.
The World Squash Day was originally started in 2011 as a memorial to the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York, which took the life of Derek Sword, a prominent ex-Scottish junior, amongst thousands of others. Since then, it has grew into an annual affair globally where national bodies and clubs took into their own hands to organise events to commemorate that day, and more importantly, introduce our beautiful game to people.
This year, World Squash Day will take place on Saturday, 12 October 2019 and a campaign named The Big Hit was launched with the aim of attracting 100,000 players. It is part of a bigger plan for next year’s Project 200, where we will begin a 10-year countdown to the 200thanniversary of the birth of squash.
In the United Kingdom, 120 clubs have signed up to host their own World Squash Day activities. While we may not be a nation anywhere close to the size of the United Kingdom, there shouldn’t be any reason why we can’t all play our own part to help the cause.
In the past years, multiple successful events have taken place at the Tanglin Club, the Serangoon Gardens Country Club and the Singapore Cricket Club, just to name a few. Even squash groups such as the Angry Birds have played their part over the years.
We are urging every club, group and school who are in the NSL to host something to attract new players to our sport. While it may further congest the availability of the court time you may have, let’s all join hands globally and look at the bigger picture. We have all been looking forward to the Olympics cause, even though most of us would have nothing to do with it. Let’s get back into that zone and do our part to save our sport. They need not be big activities, so plan to what you can realistically achieve.
Here are some suggestions what you can do:
Free coaching clinics
Have more experienced players in your club give an introductory lesson to new players.
Clubs could also have higher grade players hold a session for lower grade players.
Member bring member
To feed to the activity above, encourage existing members to bring another member, or better so, a few, to feed into the activity above.
Play the pro
For clubs with national level players, have a session of squash where lower graded players are given the opportunity to challenge the pros.
Train like a pro
National level players could also hold a session for the recreational players where they are put to the paces – drills, court runs, etc. This gives the public a general experience of what it takes to be at the top.
One popular event in the past is to have families play against each other. The key objective of this is to introduce squash to the children of existing squash players. Of course, equipment and rules for the children may be altered to suit your needs – e.g. Using a balloon or a tennis ball instead of a squash ball.
These are just a few suggestions and of course, you might have much better ideas. Go ahead and put that vision into a plan and action.
As World Squash Day falls over the US Open weekend, it might be brilliant to finish off the evening with a dinner party and screening of the US Open matches. You’d be surprised how many people may not have watched top level squash before and this activity alone cements the link between the pinnacle of the sport, the PSA World Tour and grass-roots level of the game.
For more information on World Squash Day, you may visit https://www.worldsquashday.net