By ALAN THATCHER
First published January 31; updated February 6
The biggest squash story in the world broke this week but you can be forgiven for not having seen it.
An article on a small London squash club receiving a development grant of £6,500 was picked up by several national newspapers and the fallout is still gaining momentum.
One article on The Guardian website generated almost 300 comments from readers.
The story concerned a club with the name of 4Play Squash, who play at Finsbury Leisure Centre. They field two teams in the Middlesex League and deserve support for trying to grow the game.
However, the subject matter that generated such a furious response was the article’s claim that the club’s stated objective was to attract more lesbian and trans-gender members to the club.
You may wonder at the objectivity of a newspaper that likes to be taken seriously but which, despite carrying an enormous sports section, ignored Nick Matthew’s succession of triumphs during 2010 on his way to becoming world number one and world champion.
You may wish to view the debate here:
The posts make very interesting reading, especially if you have an interest in the grey and often confusing world of sports funding.
A 4Play member wrote:
“4Play Squash can exist happily without outside funding and has done for over 20 years. We have taught many players how to play squash in a safe, friendly and unthreatening environment. Few other squash groups welcome beginners who have never picked up a raquet before!
“The funding is for coaching and equipment to help attract new people to the sport and to help us improve the standard of play while also teaching some of the more intricate rules.
“Squash courts are being turned into aerobics rooms etc all over the UK, and the American sport of Raquet Ball (bigger spongey balls and paddles instead of raquets) is something we do not want to happen here in the UK.
“Squash is no longer an Olympic sport, yet synchronised swimming is, and there is a movement to include darts!!”
Some interesting points, there, but one ought to point that squash never has been an Olympic sport.
One reader responded by saying: “You won’t get any funding from England Squash and Racketball if you slag off racketball !!!
“Racketball is the future, according to ESR. Some clubs enthusiastically report that racketball players book half the courts.
“Interesting that the argument on this thread comes full circle with 4Play shown to be blatantly racketball-phobic !!!!!!”
Another squash enthusiast posted: “The saddest element of this story is the fact that The Guardian newspaper ignores the phenomenal successes of British squash players in its sports pages.
“Nick Matthew is World Open champion, world No.1 and won the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games. Last week he reached the final of the Tournament of Champions event played inside Grand Central Station, but this was ignored by The Guardian.
“England has six players in the men’s world top 16 and it’s a similar story in the female rankings.
“Can somebody from within the Guardian sports desk hierarchy please explain this appalling, offensive and insulting attitude towards the sport.”
Here, here! So say all of us!
And, no, there was no response from the Guardian sports desk.
For an amusing take on thestory, check here: