Laura Massaro, world squash champion and media queen, gets down with the kids at Moss Side
Laura Massaro took time out during a hectic day of media activity to do what she loves best, getting on court to hit a squash ball. This time, instead of being watched by a 4,000-strong crowd in Penang, scene of her World Championship victory last weekend, she was on court with some school children at the Moss Side Leisure Centre in Manchester.
Her TV commitments took her to the BBC and ITV studios in Manchester, with plenty of newspaper and radio interviews conducted on her mobile as she was driven around the city.
Her magnificent triumph in Malaysia has delivered an enormous boost to squash, with a wave of media coverage and a definite feel-good factor in the air.
With Nick Matthew as men’s world champion, and England the men’s world team champions, Massaro’s achievements have provided the sport with marketing opportunities that are simply too good to miss.
England Squash and Racketball can forget about funding issues and the search for a new chief executive for a while as they bask in the warm glow of national pride.
Massaro, like Matthew, is keen to help the sport grow and happy to make herself available to plunge into this media frenzy. She is smart enough to know when to call time on it and get back to training.
Ironically, the media demands placed on Nicol David during the World Championships, plus carrying the weight of the whole nation’s expectations on her slim shoulders, may have contributed to her downfall, crashing to defeat in the semi-finals to the 18-year-old Egyptian Nour El Sherbini.
Yesterday, however, Mrs Massaro may have eclipsed even Miss David’s media mayhem with the following schedule planned brilliantly and executed with professionalism by Scarlett Smith, the former ESR media staffer who is now working for the London-based Emilia Group.
From breakfast time phone-ins, through to late-night chat shows, here is Laura’s list:
– Lancashire Evening Post
– Daily Telegraph
– Moss Side Leisure Centre
– BT Sport
– BBC Radio Manchester
– BBC Sport online
– BBC News
– BBC World Service
– Blue Peter
– BBC Radio 5 Live
– BBC North West Tonight
– BBC Breakfast
– Lancashire Telegraph
– Laura a guest on 5 Live Sports Teams
Massaro was born in Preston, Lancashire and is still based in the North West. During her visit to Moss Side, the current World No.2 took questions from the young squash players about her World Championship win and her love of squash.
Laura said: “Winning the World Championship was amazing and coming home and seeing all the media coverage has been fantastic.
“It’s really special to be able to feel like you’re inspiring young players like this. There are loads of opportunities to get on to a squash court now, and I hope my win and having the spotlight on squash can be a spark to get people playing.”
Steve Amos, Head of Development for England Squash & Racketball said: “Laura is such an inspiration for everyone. It’s our mission to create accessible places for everyone to play squash, not just in the North West but up and down the country. We want to give everyone the chance to pick up a racket and start playing through programmes like The Big Hit.”
Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council executive member for culture and leisure said:
“I’d like to congratulate Laura on this momentous win. It’s been 15 years since England has had a women’s world squash champion and I’m sure her victory will inspire the next generation of players.
“Squash continues to grow in popularity across the North West. I’d like to thank Laura for taking the time to meet with these young squash players here in Manchester. I’m sure it’s an experience they will remember for a lifetime. It’s not every day you get to meet a world champion.”
Pictures by PAUL CURRIE