Thursday, November 30, 2023

Hurricane halts World Squash Day in El Salvador but the rest of the globe kicks up a storm of energy

Outdoor venues and clubs with interactive courts join forces for a fun day to promote the game
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor and Founder of World Squash Day)

World Squash Day 2022 will bring colour and excitement to the game all over the globe on Saturday (October 15).

Multiple events are taking place on every continent as clubs and federations get creative in a bid to attract a new generation of players to the sport.

Interactive walls will be in use in various parts of the world to promote the game to a younger audience.

For Singapore Squash, it forms part of a hugely creative World Squash Day programme that includes the Splash Paint Squash project, inviting members of the public to hit paint covered squash balls at the glass court at Singapore Island Country Club.

Alex Wan, general manager of Singapore Squash, said: “The Mixed Reality Squash will also be back on World Squash Day and we hope existing players will bring along their friends and families for a day of fun and games.

World Squash Day in Singapore

“They can experience squash like never before, with interactive games such as Mecha Invasion, Squashing Ducks, Space Kittens and more!

“All the participants who get on court at the Kallang Squash Centre will be entered into a lucky draw with three lucky winners walking away with free tickets for the forthcoming Marigold Singapore Open.”

In England, Crowborough Tennis and Squash Club will be inviting the public to try out the new interactiveSQUASH court that was opened recently by three-times world champion Nick Matthew.

Club coach Lee Wicks, who is the UK distributor for interactiveSQUASH, said: “We are delighted to be helping to promote World Squash Day in a unique and exciting way.

“A number of clubs around the globe with an interactiveSQUASH system are promoting not only squash and Squash57 but also the fun, entertainment and general fitness that can be enjoyed on a squash court.

Nick Matthew on court at Crowborough

“We are teaming up with interactiveSQUASH partners and their host clubs in the UK, Holland and around the world and will use a new competition leader board to run an international game of ‘Alien Hunt’ for the kids and beginners and a “Figure 8” game for the adults and regular players.”

The town of Crowborough has provided accommodation for a large community of refugees from war-torn Ukraine and Lee added: “We are inviting our new neighbours from Ukraine to come and join us on World Squash Day. All the monies raised by these events will go towards helping the Ukrainian Squash Federation to rebuild their facilities.”

World Squash Federation CEO William Louis-Marie said: “World Squash Day has been a well-established event that we look forward to every year. This is a day when our community comes together and shows its unwavering passion for our sport.

“It is amazing to discover every year the creativity of our clubs, players, and friends of our sport. I’d like to extend my personal thanks to Alan for his tireless work and his commitment to showcasing the game.

“I hope everyone has a brilliant time celebrating this year in a fun way with his/her family and friends and I’m looking forward to seeing all the brilliant photos and videos from around the world posted on social media!”

Raising funds for charity is a popular theme for this year’s World Squash Day.

Twenty five miles from Crowborough, Kent club Biddenden is holding a 24-hour marathon to raise funds for the Trussell Trust, which provides emergency food relief for those in need.

The idea for the Squashathon came from the club’s junior section and it was great to hear Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce give a shout out to the event this morning.

Busy day at Biddenden

Thurles Squash Club in County Tipperary, Ireland, is holding a 12-hour marathon to raise funds for Downs Syndrome Tipperary.

The Celtic Squash Club in Waterford is holding a Squash Blitz to attract new members and to raise funds for the Helping Hand charity which provides food and support for the homeless.

In South Africa, the Durbanville Squash Club is supporting the Phoenix Project, an initiative that was launched by club chair Charmaine van Niekerk.

The club provides coaching and development to a group of children who have been placed in protective care after suffering from domestic abuse.

Durbanville members aim to collect squash gear and donations to provide kit for the children.

The Phoenix Project in Durbanville

Squash New Zealand is once again partnering with the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation (MHF) as the charity for World Squash Day.

This week the PSA Foundation supported World Mental Health Day and Squash NZ said: “This year Squash New Zealand and the Districts have agreed to re-partner with the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation (MHF) as the charity for World Squash Day.

“The charity fits well as we both support healthy lifestyles and we look forward to building a meaningful relationship that provides good health outcomes for New Zealanders.

“Exercise, connectivity, and a sense of belonging plays a large role in everyone’s mental wellbeing, so let us come together to share our love for squash and open our doors to welcome members of the community into our clubs and invite new people to play our great sport.”

In Australia, Daisy Hill Squash Club is partnering with Zephyr Education, a Brisbane-based charity helping children whose lives and education have been disrupted by domestic violence.

Club owner Brad Hindle, a former professional on the PSA World Tour, said: “A lot of Zephyr’s work is to encourage children to live healthy lives through sport and we are pleased to offer our total support.

“We are launching our fund-raising with a Poker Night followed by a day of squash activities and social functions.”

Former Aussie Test cricketer David Hussey, now coach of Melbourne Stars, will be batting the ball around court on World Squash Day

Raising the profile of the sport, Squash and Racquetball Victoria is holding a Celebrity Challenge in Melbourne.

Squash Australia CEO Robert Donaghue will be taking to the court at Melbourne Squash and Aquatic Centre to play former Test cricketer David Hussey, who now coaches Melbourne Stars.

Other celebrities in action include comedian and TV personality Dave Hughes,
Celebrity Masterchef George Calombaris, Olympic badminton player Gronya Sommerville, former AFL player and mental health advocate Mark Eustice, 3AW Weekend Breakfast presenter Darren James, and House of Representative member Peta Murphy MP.

Squash stars Rex Hedrick (Australia) and Adrian Waller (England) will be playing an exhibition match and former women’s world champions Sarah FitzGerald and Cassie Thomas will also be in action.

Karl Mayne, General Manager of Squash Victoria, says: “After a difficult few years for the sport, we hope the day will bring joy to our community and help raise the profile of the game, one that was much loved by Australians during the 70s-90s, and we are committed to returning its position as one of the premier sports in Australian culture.”

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Outdoor squash is a major development project championed by the WSF and the PSA Foundation, and Bounty Squash Club in England will be unveiling their new open-air court (above) to the public in Basingstoke, Hampshire, on World Squash Day.

The club will be holding a full day of events including free taster sessions both indoors and outside, with Bounty members enjoying a host of fun activities throughout the day.

The court is now up and running outside the club, enabling squash to be more visible in the community.

Project leader Simon Ward said: “We have raised more than £11,000 from our Crowdfunding appeal. Our original target was £10,000 and the CrowdFund is still open if people want to donate, as we will be enhancing the court and maybe building another one.

“The walls are constructed from Heras fencing supported by a scaffold outer frame which is bolted into the ground. The walls have been constructed using 14 panels of Twinwall polycarbonate sheeting which is attached to the Heras fencing on the rear face of the Twinwall via lots of cable ties.”

Here’s how they did it:

The Maspeth Steel Court in Queen’s, New York, will also be playing host to a variety of visitors.

Unfortunately, plans for a special outdoor event at the four-court Squash Para Todos facility in El Salvador had to be cancelled after hurricane damage.

Coach Carlos Schonenberg, leader of Squash Para Todos, said: “Unfortunately central América got hit with a hurricane and big storms this past weekend.

“We have got some minor damage and we are working on getting back on our feet as fast as we can. I doubt we can get something going for World Squash Day but we are planning some cool upgrades coming soon.”

Moving from Carlos’s brilliantly hand-crafted outdoor courts to some incredible technology, just take a look at this brilliant CGI movie fly-through of a glass court to promote World Squash Day, created by my friend Simon Scott of the CGI Pros division of Cambridge Creative in England:

Good luck to everyone sharing their energy and passion for the sport on World Squash Day tomorrow.



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