Monday, May 20, 2024

Scotland appoint Paul Bell and Martin Heath

Scotland's women's team gets ready to return to the European Team Championships
Scotland’s women’s team gets ready to return to the European Team Championships

Top-class coaching team can reignite Scotland’s international ambitions

By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor

Scottish Squash have appointed a new coaching team, with Paul Bell as new National Coach and Martin Heath the Elite Performance Coach.

Bell’s appointment was confirmed today on a permanent basis. Former world No.4 Heath, who is Head Coach at the University of Rochester in New York, is working on an interim basis but his agreement has been extended to include the World Doubles Championship in Australia in August.

Scottish Squash Chief Executive Maggie Still was delighted to confirm the appointments. She revealed: “The process was open and fair, and the players were involved in that process with Sport Scotland. Scottish internationals Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban had identified the coaches they wished to work with and we are pleased to see Paul now working for us in a full-time capacity.

“A similar process will be undertaken in the summer when we seek to make the Elite Performance position a permanent one.”

Paul Bell (green shirt) wins his ninth Cumbria title
Paul Bell (green shirt) wins his ninth Cumbria title

Bell, the former head coach at Carlisle Squash Club who recently won his ninth Cumbria county title, said: “I will be based in Edinburgh, at Heriot Watt University, where the centralised programme is run.

“Myself and Martin will be working together with particular focus on the elite players Scotland have on the world tour. He will be involved with those players at representative events and out on the tour, particularly with events based in America.

“The elite coach will also be looking to build a long-term vision for the future of Scottish Squash to help bring more Scottish players to the top of the world game.

“My role as national coach is to implement the holistic programme in Scotland, putting in place the vision and philosophy of the elite coach.”

Martin HeathHeath, from Oban, was part of a phenomenal era for squash in Scotland at a time when he and Peter Nicol enjoyed considerable success on the world stage. He is delighted to share his experience with a new generation of players.

Heath (right) said: “I am in an interim position with Scottish Squash, which should continue for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t feel right discussing a vision until I am confirmed in the role.

“After saying that, even in my current role, it is a great opportunity to work with the elite Scottish players and coaches, and hopefully pass on a lot of the hard-earned lessons I absorbed as a player and a coach.

“I have worked with players and national teams in different continents, though being given an opportunity to work with Scottish Squash is obviously personally very gratifying. I hope I can make a positive contribution whatever the extent of my involvement.”

Bell is already making an impact, taking charge of a women’s squad competing in the European Team Championship after an absence of several years.

These appointments follow the departures of head coach Roger Flynn and his assistant Stuart Crawford. 

Welcoming the developments, Scottish men’s No.2 Greg Lobban said: “I’m delighted with the appointment of Paul Bell as National Coach and really excited about the prospect of working with Martin Heath.

“Scottish Squash has had a few changes in the past year or so including our new CEO, Maggie Still, who has done a great job along with her team at Scottish Squash to attract such high calibre coaches such as Martin and Paul.

“The appointments have come at a crucial time before both our men’s and women’s teams compete at the European Team Championships and prior to the start of our preparation towards the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

“Scottish Squash is looking really strong again and with these two appointments, along with our current performance team at Heriot Watt, it’s the perfect platform to allow Scottish players to be successful at the highest level.”

Following a hugely successful squash tournament in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scottish Squash is hoping these appointments will lead to a resurgence of the sport north of the border.

With some solid, well-established tournaments in place in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and excellent facilities at Heriot Watt and the Scotstoun campus in Glasgow, the building blocks are already in place.


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