By Alex Wan
2020 was a year many would agree nothing much happened, yet went by so quickly.
Singapore Squash came into the year 2020 with a bang. With a new committee on board, two large scale events were planned to take place – the Squash Ball in March and an exhibition tournament in June/July.
The Squash Ball’s main aim was to raise funds for an interim squash centre in view of the planned demolition of the Kallang Squash Centre. Plans were well in the advanced stage, where the Shangri-La hotel ballroom had been reserved and confirmation from the #GOAT Nicol David that she would be gracing our event.
While the Squash Ball had been postponed, the fund-raising part was highly successful. A total of $801k was raised, which met the target set by the SSRA committee. The amount of $800k will be matched by the government through the One Team Singapore Fund (OTSF) and the Bicentennial Community Fund (BCF).
The exhibition tournament would’ve been a treat for all our squash fans. With top Egyptian stars power couples Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb, and Tarek Momen and Raneem El Welily having already committed to the event, we regretfully had to postpone it. On another note, Raneem has since given birth to baby Shahir and Nour is pregnant, so it will be a while before the duo can get onto a court anytime soon.
Due to the pandemic, both the above events did not take place. Neither did the regular features on our calendar – the National Squash League, Singapore Open PSA Challenger, the SGSquash PSA Satellites and the National Junior Championships.
Our regular competitors did not get to compete much over the year, but we should be grateful that despite that, Singapore is amongst one of the nations who has played the most squash over the last year thanks to the strict protocols enforced by the government to keep the pandemic in check.
We did manage to squeeze in two tournaments into our calendar in the last quarter of the year – the MARIGOLD National Championships and the MARIGOLD Junior and Masters Open.
With everything moving towards the right direction, we are hopeful that 2021 will be a better year for us all. We are hopeful that our Squash Ball will take place in the second half of the year. Additionally, competitors can look forward to the National Squash League, along with some, if not all, of our tournaments, to take place.
Here’s a look back at some of things which we have done and also some that did not happen.
JAN / FEB
Kallang Squash Centre
Given the directive from the government to remove the Kallang Squash Centre for re-development, Singapore Squash ran an online campaign to fund raise for an interim squash centre. This initiative ran alongside the Squash Ball towards the same fund.
SSRA’s new committee presented to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) a blueprint of a new modern multi-storey squash centre that houses all formats of the sport – singles, international and jumbo doubles. Working on a smaller plot of land and building upwards, it would’ve maximised land use and having all formats within a single facility.
Squash Rules workshop held for club representatives ahead of the National Squash League. It was aimed to raise the awareness of the community with the updated rules.
Squash Ball and Exhibition Tournament
Two big events slated for 2020, the Squash Ball and the exhibition tournament has been postponed. The Squash Ball, originally planned for 16 March 2020 has been postponed to 28 August 2021, while the exhibition tournament has been put on hold indefinitely. The star players were informed and they have sent their regrets.
MAR / APR
Friends of Squash Fundraiser Event
Ultimate Squasher ran a successful Friends of Squash fundraiser in aid of the fund for the interim squash centre on 14 March 2020, just in the nick of time before the Circuit Breaker kicked in. With the support of Singapore Squash’s partner Ever Triumph and 150 people from our community, a total of $18,000 was raised in the day-long event. The event was also graced by former world number five Low Wee Wern and fellow touring professional Elvinn Keo.
Cancellation of squash events and activities
With the spread of COVID-19 rising, on 27 March 2020, the authorities have halted all national training, private coaching and Singapore Squash events, including the National Squash League that was subsequently cancelled.
Shortly after, on 7 April 2020, the Circuit Breaker kicked in, halting all squash activities. With the Circuit Breaker in effect, national coaches Vivian Rhamanan, Chua Man Tong and Timothy Leong ran HIIT (High-Intensity Interval-Training) online sessions on Singapore Squash’s Facebook page to keep our national trainees in shape. The sessions were also opened to our squash community.
Overseas training trip
Our national trainees Sneha Sivakumar and Au Yeong Wai Yhann had been arranged for a stint at the ElBorolossy Squash Academy in Cairo, Egypt. The academy is founded by former world number 14 Omar El Borolossy, who was also the World Junior runner-up in 1994. The pair would’ve been sparring with top Egyptian juniors and seniors ahead of a PSA Challenger event at the same city.
MAY / JUN
Phase 2 of Circuit Breaker
Phase 2 of the Circuit Breaker commenced on 19 June 2020. With this, squash activities resumed with some strict safety measures in place, with the main one being only two players are allowed into the court at any one time and a total of three registered to a court at all ActiveSG venues.
Resumption of national training
National training resumed on 22 June 2020 and split into three sessions – with each session lasting 90 minutes. Our trainees engage in physical activities outside the Kallang Squash Centre or at the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) gym after that. Singapore Squash is grateful to SSI for granting us access into their facility.
JUL / AUG
Squash Player Magazine
Singapore Squash and Squash Player magazine, arguably the oldest squash-dedicated publication, entered into a collaboration on 22 July 2020. The British-based publication will now be available to all our members electronically for free. Our community now have the opportunity to stay abreast with the latest squash news around the PSA World Tour and squash communities worldwide.
“Evenings with John & Duncan” on Spotlight on Team Singapore
Our national trainees Aaron Liang and Sneha Sivakumar were featured on Active SG’s programme Spotlight on Team Singapore. The pair shared about their life as athletes in Phase 2 of the Circuit Breaker, working out at home and common misconceptions about the sport.
Sport Singapore featured our national trainees as part of a National Day programme. Each trainee shared their most memorable moments growing up on the island, their dreams for the Lion City and their plans for Singapore’s 55th birthday.
SEP / OCT
Welcome, new hires!
Singapore Squash beefed up our coaching structure with three new hires. Yap Kok Four, who represented Malaysia at the 1998 Commonwealth Games took up the National Head Coach role. He is joined by Singapore legend Zainal Abidin as the High Performance Coach, and our former national champion, Mohamed Rizal Kadir, who has been tasked with the under-15 juniors.
World Squash Day
Singapore Squash released a video in conjunction with World Squash Day. In light of the COVID-19 situation, we joined the world in a series of videos with the theme of #WhyILoveSquash.
NOV / DEC
Annual General Meeting 2020
For the first time, the Singapore Squash Annual General Meeting was held via video conferencing. Despite that, there were a total of 33 proxy submissions and 21 people present. We are encouraged by the positive feedback received from our supportive community.
Marketing & Communications
Singapore Squash hired a dedicated resource for marketing communications, with a focus on beefing up social media engagements via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Telegram. Total Facebook and Instagram engagements in November and December amounted to 2,364 – more than double from the previous three months. Total followers grew 10% between November and December thanks to the increased rate of engagements in December.
Singapore Squash successfully runs two back-to-back tournaments in December with strict safety measures in place – the MARIGOLD National Squash Championships, and the MARIGOLD Junior and Masters Squash Open. Samuel Kang and Au Yeong Wai Yhann won their third successive national titles. Meanwhile in the Under-19 events, top seeds Jerome Aw and Gracia Chua took the titles.
Singapore Squash, working alongside 1 Play Sports, piloted an enhanced broadcasting system. The new method of broadcasting shifts to a totally remote system where no single on-site personnel is required. This was successfully trialled over the two tournaments held in the last quarter. With that in mind, we are looking for commentators to join us for future events.
Updates on the demolition of Kallang Squash Centre
We received news that the Kallang Squash Centre, initially scheduled for demolition in end-2021, is deferred until further notice.
Singapore Squash will be updating our events calendar for 2021 in response to the evolving global Covid-19 pandemic situation. Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting news coming your way!