Many of you reading this will not have been involved in World Squash Day last Saturday. I guess some of you may not have known it was taking place. Some of you probably knew it was on, read about it, then moved on to the next article about a major tournament taking place somewhere across the globe. A tournament like the World Open, perhaps, where promoter Tommy Berden laid on a spectacular event in a stunning venue.
Behind the headlines, and far removed from the lifestyle of our jet-setting professionals, lies a world most of us know about, but again, we prefer to turn the page instead of confronting the reality of life in places like Soweto.
This sprawling, poverty-stricken township on the edge of Johannesburg was the epicentre of World Squash Day.
More than 600 children from the Soweto townships were given a free lunch and treated to a day of squash and education classes.
Former WISPA World Tour professional Lauren Siddall, now Head Coach at Pretoria University, said: “It was a fantastic day, combining World Squash Day celebrations with real-life issues and education for people who wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to play squash but who fell in love with the game instantly.
“The older children were welcomed to the lecture theatre and were given sex education and education on HIV/AIDs.
“This is an ongoing programme run by Central Gauteng Squash that is constantly bringing in hundreds of children to this wonderful sport.
“The day was run by Glenn Lazarus and his brilliant development team, Sharon Sibanda, Lawrence Dlamini and Dikana Mthombeni, who have trained as squash coaches and now manage the whole programme embracing more than 1,000 children.”
Siddall added: “I was sad to miss the World Open in Rotterdam, but I am happy to be giving back to the sport I love, especially in circumstances like this. We are about to launch an appeal for rackets, shoes and clothing to help the project grow.”
Lauren’s report from South Africa showed how squash can interact with a community to provide amazing, life-changing experiences.
For all those people in squash who did nothing to promote World Squash Day, here was a lesson. Not only a lesson in sport, but a lesson in life.