Thursday, November 30, 2023

Now’s the time for England Squash to rescue and rebuild our sport at every level

By ANDY WHIPP - Squash Mad Columnist Keir Worth’s decision to step down from his role as CEO of England Squash offers a great opportunity for a failing organisation to inject some new ideas, reassess current protocols and transform the organisation to a powerhouse of leadership which squash in England deserves. It’s easy to point […]

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  1. As seems to be the case more and more these days, the sense of importance of the organisation seems to be greater than the fundamental reason for its existence. As someone who knows and likes Keir, I have no criticism of him personally, but from day 1, the “corporate” nature of communications spelt out a worrying trend towards self importance and a detachment from the grass roots. I personally was disgusted at the way the National Squash League, which I was involved in setting up with Peter Genever at Chichester many years ago, was “franchised” to an individual a couple of years ago and Chichester was “disinvited” to participate because the Club “didn’t make enough money”. So what? It was always a cost burden but the Club chose to support the league because of its long and proud association with the sport. This disinterest spills over into many areas – a disconnected coaching structure and the referred to lack of engagement with junior squash are good examples. The once almost failing PSA has turned the sport around at Professional level, it cant be that hard to revive the amateur and social game.

  2. Andy Whipp not afraid to be contentious & light the blue touch paper! Interesting reading, whether you share the viewpoint or not.
    Audited accounts are on ES website (take a bit of finding), showing the pressure all squash NGBs are under: huge reliance (2/3 income) on much-reduced Govt funding, leading to massive downsizing in staff (to 20 FTE) in recent yrs & the challenge of trying to do more with less.
    Strip out national event income – as far as you can tell from the accounts, tournaments seem to do no more than cover their own costs – only other material source of income is membership fees from clubs for themselves & their players. Too many clubs see this as an optional payment only necessary for team players – we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.
    But ES could do more to: make a more convincing case for payment; an easier process to register & activate; & start/continue to maintain regular engagement. TBF, has been getting better, but more needs to be done.
    Don’t need heroic leadership (in sense of trying to be – or over-pressurising by thinking you need to be – the saviour, command & control style) everything so inter-dependent nowadays has to be done with teamwork. But tone from top/CEO must be visible. Operating behind scenes inappropriate in time of crisis. Transformational leadership needs impact & influence – can’t be maximised if invisible.

  3. Peter – good comments.
    “Disinterested” and “disconnected” – you’re so right!
    The National / Premier Squash League has become so poor in the last five years because teams drop out – and of course teams want to drop out because of the way they are treated. I feel another article coming on…..

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