Marcin on the move to grow the game
By ROSANNA RADLINSKA – Squash Mad European Correspondent
Squash Mad’s Rosanna Radlinska talks to Marcin Wojtowicz, co-organiser and co-developer of an impressive project designed to make squash more popular in Poland, the Squash Zone Tour 2016.
Squash Mad: We noticed that Squash Zone Tour has just finished its second event. This time it took place in Szczecin in the Kaskada shopping mall. Can you tell us more about the ideas behind the 2016 Squash Zone Tour?
Marcin: The idea of squash promotion has accompanied us (my business partner Tomasz Pilarski and myself) since the very moment when we opened our place on Earth i.e. Squash Zone Club in Szczecin, Poland. We knew that just opening the club is not enough to encourage people to play the sport. It needed more exposure.
After we have gathered some experience in running two events with glass court involved (the Olympic Squash in 2014 where Polish Olympians were invited to participate, and staging a squash event during the Tall Ships Regatta when the Guinness World Record was claimed, we decided to act nationwide.
In January 2016 we started with the event in the shopping mall “Galeria Baltycka” in Gdansk. In April we hosted an event in Szczecin. The next ones are planned in Katowice in July and in Poznan in October.
Every time the strap line for the event is “Everyone can play squash” and by organising these events we try to prove our strap line to be true.
Squash Mad: You have been using well known matches formula i.e. Poland vs the Rest of the World just like Enjoy club in Bielsko-Biala during the events “Squash on Chrobry Square”. Why? Did Enjoy club have nothing against you adapting their idea?
Marcin: On the contrary, Maciej Klis shares our ideas and supports our efforts. Maciej has brought this formula into our events, because it is ideal and goes exactly along our line of squash promotion and empowers our strap line “Everyone can play squash”.
Squash Mad: What is new then in Squash Zone Tour that is your hallmark?
Marcin: Our hallmark is proving that actually everyone can play squash and during the event we do have all genders and all age groups on the glass court. During the event in April we had PE lessons on the glass court during the first two days and we had over 300 children on court from the local schools.
We hosted the national Squash Federation’s Polish Open, for men, women, and the junior tournament (over 60 children in 8 age categories participated in it – we even had an Under-9 category!).
These events attracted more than 400 people to play squash. Additionally, we invited customers of the shopping mall to participate in different competitions which, of course, meant stepping on to the court and having the first session of squash with an instructor.
Squash Mad: Sponsors and media are important in squash promotion. What sponsors and media patronage do you have?
Marcin: The main partner of Squash Zone Tour 2016 is ECE Projektmanagement the owner of the shopping malls where we hold our events. Spectacular glass court and other accompanying events determine the high budget, so every time, we try to attract sponsors who are interested in advertisement in big shopping malls in the main Polish cities during the sport event.
Our patrons are: the Ministry of Sports and Tourism of Poland, Polish Squash Federation, SquashActive magazine, and Szczecin City Council in the last event.
Squash Mad: Squash supporters and promoters pay attention to women’s and children’s participation. How does it look like in Squash Zone Tour? Does it promote women’s and junior squash?
Marcin: Of course! If we believe that everyone can play squash then it is exactly what we do during our events. We hosted women’s event in Szczecin and also junior girls played in the junior event. During our local tournaments we also have females participating in women’s or open events. During the Squash Zone Tour event in Szczecin we had Zbigniew, a wheelchair user, who was watching squash players on court and just couldn’t refrain himself from trying squash.
Squash Mad: This is brilliant! Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the tour
Marcin: Thank you.
Squash Zone Club was founded in 2011, with two clubs in Szczecin. Special offers are available for students, juniors and women. The facilities include a relaxation room, sauna, gym, fitness, and sports medicine centre, with the main attraction being eight McWil courts.