Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Letter from Australia: Borders are closed but the National Squash Centre is still open

Carrara Squash Centre is still open despite the spread of coronavirus

Carrara Centre stays open but hygiene rules are in place
Letter from Down Under: By ALEXIA CLONDA – Squash Mad Correspondent (First posted March 21)

Australia’s borders are closed but the National Squash Centre is still open.

Here Down Under we have just closed our borders, our two major airlines have halted all international flights, reduced domestic ones and pretty much grounded their fleets… but squash is still going ahead in many places.

To reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, and protect the population, only Australian citizens and residents will be allowed into the country, if they can get on a plane. All international travellers must go into 14 days of self-isolation. Travel restrictions are getting tighter. So that places a giant question mark over the World Junior Championships, which are scheduled for July.

The Government guidelines have been put into place to minimise the spread of and exposure to the virus. Personal hygiene practices have been ramped up with public announcements via the media.

Clubs, pubs and restaurants are shut or are shutting down, and only small gatherings of no more than 100 people are allowed with a strict 1.5m distance policy in place. Social distancing needs to be adhered to.

Every day the situation changes and update announcements are made daily.

Major sporting events have been cancelled or are being postponed and reviewed daily on what other measurements are being put in place.

Squash events are being cancelled or postponed, and the local Sydney League competition has been shut down for at least a month.

The Gold Coast Council, which owns and runs the Carrara Sports Centre, the home of Squash Australia squash courts and the main venue for the 2020 World Juniors scheduled for July, has this current announcement:

“Major sporting venues and community centres remain open. However City is working to ensure compliance with latest advice with regard to having no indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.”

In general, squash centres here in Australia haven’t always had the best cleaning practices in place. So this period of lockdown can be viewed as a major opportunity or a major wake-up call to address areas in this industry to make sure club operators do things in the best interests of the clients, who are their business. Giving the kitchens a deep-clean would be my suggested starting point.

At my local centre, signs are everywhere regarding personal hygiene. Players are not shaking hands and mindful of distance between each other.

Many centres have no other option. It’s being socially responsible to put these measures in place and clubs are getting it out to their members via emails and social media.

Here’s one example of a club choosing to stay open but laying down the law regarding hygiene protocols being enforced.

The club will still be open for social play and organised round robins with limited numbers. We will be following closely the latest news and information issued by the government. The current indoor requirement is no more than 100 people and 1 person to 4m2 area. Due to the large, open layout of our facility we can still have bookings on each court.

Please follow our 10 commandments while participating at our facility so we can enjoy a safe exercise space for the whole community.

1. If you have returned from overseas you are required to have two weeks’ self-isolation and if you’re sick (any type of flu like symptom) or might have come into contact with anyone sick, please stay at home. We will reserve the right to ask you to leave the premises if a staff member determines you are showing symptoms.

2. On arrival please use hand sanitizers and hand wash

3. Balls and hire rackets will be wiped over with disinfectant wipes between court hiring, there are wipes located at the counter for use upon return of your balls.

4. We encourage you to use credit card tap and go instead of cash

5. Bring a change of shirts, wristbands etc to change between games, especially if you sweat a lot

6. Instead of handshaking at the end of your matches just tap each other’s rackets or feet

7. Please bring your own water bottle and towels. We will wash our cups regularly in our dishwasher, please put your cup straight in the dishwasher after use. Avoid small hand towels

8. Please avoid hanging around your court after you have finished playing and notify staff when you have finished so they can spray and wipe surfaces at your court for the next booking

9. Be generous with let calls to avoid full contact with opponents and remember we play for exercise and fun, with the cancellation of many other sports we are grateful that we can continue our sport for the time being.

10. If you have any concerns, suggestions or questions please feel free to talk to staff anytime. We want to work with you to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure your well being

Sage advice at the Carrara courts


This crisis highlights every single person’s obligation to being absolutely responsible for their own actions and how it could impact on others. We all have a role in life and in this crisis.

We are individuals, part of a community, which is part of a bigger community and so on. No one can bury their head in the sand and think this will go away.

To only want to hear the positive and nothing else is being ignorant of the reality of this situation. Life is all about negatives and positives. It’s how to respond, not react, to the negative that you can find solutions to move through anything. Out of negativity can come positives. Logic, rationality and practicability are foremost in these times.

This is a world in crisis that has been at the back of our minds, but maybe not the way we expected it to be. This is about the health of everyone on the planet. It will affect everyone in some way shape or foam.

As in all crises, there will be businesses that decline and or close and businesses that emerge and prosper. There is no quick fix. In time it will pass. How we were all going and what we were doing will be different to what they were six months ago. We have learnt from past experiences that we can adapt, think differently and do things differently.

Having had health issues and scares all my life, I have always said our health is our number one asset and until we have a health scare or crisis, we take it for granted.

I certainly believe that all of us at some stage or another have or will face ups and downs, a scare or crisis; this is part of life’s rich tapestry. Life has its ups and downs. This is a huge wake-up call. It is also a massive opportunity, so let’s adapt our behaviour and attitude to respond in a positive manner. 

I have always lived, breathed and eaten squash during my professional career. Because of my health issues and medical conditions I did things differently from most, always looking for something, anything that would help me improve my health and my squash performances. I explored conventional and alternative remedies and suggestions.

With this I started to explore what made me tick. I wondered how I could be the best I could be. And I questioned what is life all about. I learnt new things, disregarded old ways of thinking and doing things, and I really started to get it. It being life.

Sometimes you have to unlearn to learn, make way for the new. I am open and capable learn whether as a player, coach or person, face your fears it’s possible to learn from them and move through them.

Asking yourself questions: how I can and what do I need to do to improve, to get better, to get a different/different outcome or result; what I can do to grow.

Even though I achieved being a top 10 player, representing my country, winning major events I become interested on how I did achieve with these health issues. With this I started to explore personal development and gaining other qualifications to help others holistically, as a whole person.

I have become a Motivation and Mind Coach and have developed the IC Mindset Mentoring Program, not just for squash players, but for people from all walks of life, athletes, business people, those suffering from illness, applicable to every area of one’s life.

Your mindset is one thing that each one of us can be in total control of. What can and do you need to do to help yourself get mentally, physically and emotionally sound to get through this crisis, and not fall in a heap and into the negativity that is all around?

The Coronavirus lockdown gives all of us an opportunity to take a break, take stock and maybe change the way we do things. Hopefully for the better.

PS: No word yet on the World Junior Championships. With every player and official from every visiting nation facing 14 days of self-isolation prior to competition, the extra accommodation costs will be astronomical. That’s assuming flights will be available.

Maybe the sensible thing to do would be to postpone the event, as several friends in other countries are suggesting. The World Junior dates are July 19-30. The Olympic Games schedule runs from July 24 to August 9, and again, many athletes and officials are urging the IOC and hosts Japan to postpone the event. 



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