By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
I am looking forward to speaking on March 5th at the online Squash Summit organised by the brilliant Sportageous website, based in Australia. Right now my head is full of ideas to talk about building clubs for the future with the Squash 200 Partnership and relaunching the game on World Squash Day later this year.
I’ve already written several pages of notes explaining the plans behind both projects and for the past week I have been waking up at 4am every morning with my head full of extra ideas.
Regarding World Squash Day, I will be talking about how we can bring the fun back into squash after a year of players suffering withdrawal symptoms.
With Squash 200, I am designing new multi-sport rackets clubs that can act as health and social hubs for their communities, with squash at the heart of the operations.
Our whole ethos is about driving down the building costs and start-up budgets to encourage a new wave of club owners.
Squash is 200 years old in 2030 and I plan to celebrate this milestone by building 200 new courts during the next decade.
The Squash Summit is being staged at a crucial time for the game with many nations experiencing varying degrees of lockdown for more than a year.
For me, the past 12 months has given me the opportunity to look closely at the growth of emerging sports like padel and pickleball, and see what lessons squash can learn from the processes involved in their spread across the world.
While squash has been in hibernation, pickleball has grown by 20 per cent in America in the past year. There are now more than 4.2 million pickleball players in the USA, where the sport has just signed a major TV deal with ESPN. Meanwhile, Canada is emerging as the next major growth area.
Padel is miles ahead in South America and the sunnier European nations like Spain. Padel is exploding across Sweden, and similar signs of growth are evident in the UK, with many tennis and squash clubs adding padel to their list of offerings.
It’s been heartening to have had so many enlightening conversations with friends across the world in the past few months, discussing innovations in squash court design and particularly the need for cheaper, open-air courts to help make the game more visible, more accessible and more affordable.
So far, almost 600 squash fans have signed up to join the conversations being hosted by The Squash Summit, with a large parade of speakers including PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough and WSF President Zena Wooldridge.
You can register here:
Sportageous have already attracted a superb list of sponsors, including Diamond Sponsors RankedIn and SportCam. Platinum sponsors are Melior Sports, Racket Proz and Magnus Sports.
Gold sponsors are Squash Players App, Daryl Selby’s Dynamic 7 Sports, K Koup and Stack Sports.
Silver sponsors are Squash Republic, Squash Skills, Shugah and Pickfleet.
The 305 Squash brand is leading the Copper sponsorship band, which donates 50 per cent of all revenues to the PSA Foundation We Are One fund, which is supporting professional players who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
I am seriously impressed by the team behind Sportageous, led by Zushan Hashmi and Furqan ur Rehman. The website has some quality writing across numerous sports, and the design is outstanding.
The Squash Summit is helping them to stamp their brand on the global squash scene. I look forward to listening to a variety of debates and shining some light on some areas that need serious attention.