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World Squash Day: How it began

Alan Thatcher
Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad, the Kent Open and co-promoter of the Canary Wharf Classic. Launched the Squash 200 Partnership to build clubs of the future. Talks a bit.

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September 11 is now etched on the psyche as the date our world changed forever and Americans realised that they are just as vulnerable as the rest of us to terrorist attacks.

The world of squash was touched by those shameful events and the recent September 11 anniversary was a reminder that several squash players lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

One of the victims was the New York Athletic Club squash champion, Derek Sword. He was in the same Scottish junior international squad as Peter Nicol, and worked in New York in the finance industry.

Soon after that fateful day last year I was playing doubles at Broxbourne with another ex-Scottish junior called Laurie Maclachlan. He was keen to organise something to honour Derek’s memory and at the same time do something tangible for squash. We brainstormed several ideas and that’s how World Squash Day came into being.

We launched the programme on January 11 2002 with a star-studded eight-man challenge tournament at Lambs Club in London.

Peter Nicol, who had agreed to be President of WSD, flew over from Boston after winning the rescheduled Memorial US Open, which had been cancelled from its original date in September. He was joined by John White and Paul Price, who also flew back to the UK through the night and headed straight for Lambs to entertain a packed gallery. Other pros included Peter Marshall, Alister Walker and Tony Hands. Irishman Stevie Richardson joined the gathering and did not look out of place in such exalted company.

The occasion also marked the first London-New York Challenge match for the Derek Sword Trophy, a magnificent silver rose bowl donated by Derek’s friends and colleagues at Keefe Bruyette Woods in New York.

It was a magical, emotional day, and we were delighted to see that more than 50 events took place around the world in 20 different countries. The WSD programme was endorsed by the World Squash Federation and England Squash, and our intention each year since then has been to encourage the WSF to involve as many nations as possible in efforts to promote and develop our sport.

Our busiest years have produced massive global efforts to encourage clubs, players and associations to support squash’s successive bids for inclusion in the Olympic Games.

Our ultimate aim is simple, to get every squash club on the planet to throw open its doors to attract new members, get the media involved, and show the world what a great game we have.

Each year we ask clubs and associations to post news and pictures of their events. Please take a look if you require inspiration and ideas for hosting an event yourself.

Together we are strong. Together we can make our sport grow. Together we can get squash into the Olympics.

Please check out: www.worldsquashday.net

(First published in 2003. Updated by the author in 2011 and 2019).

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