Spirit of Squash urban programme grows in London’s east end
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
Insert Urban squash programmes are firmly established in the USA. We may be a little slow to catch up here in the UK but the Spirit of Squash Academy in London is continuing to set the pace.
In a development described as national first, Spirit of Squash have launched a “Play & Learn Academy” in the east end of London.
Spirit of Squash, along with equipment partner Eye Rackets, recently strengthened its relationship with the Bethnal Green Academy School in Tower Hamlets, where a new project will combine squash coaching with academic study in numeracy and literacy.
Pupils, their parents and teachers attended an evening presentation to launch and sign up to the UK’s first secondary school Urban Squash Education Project. Modelled on the American concept which has proved so successful, Spirit of Squash will run the first pilot scheme over six weeks starting in June.
Each week pupils will receive one hour of squash coaching and one hour of academic study in numeracy and/or literacy.
The evening presentation proved to be a hit with students and parents alike who were all sold on the idea, one parent even wanting to sign up herself.
Sam Miller, Managing Director of Eye Rackets, commented that, “The evening was extremely well received and I felt there was genuine excitement from the kids, parents and teachers. There is certainly much potential for the initiative and it’s wonderful to be associated with such a program. I look forward to growing our relationship and helping you move this forward at the Bethnal Green Academy and beyond.”
Paul Fennell, Operations and Development Manager at Spirit of Squash, commented that this initiative represents the beginning of a shift in focus for Spirt of Squash: “We want to become the number one provider of education and sport programmes in London, and The Bethnal Green Academy is the perfect place to launch our fantastic new project.”
The Bethnal Green Academy has the only two squash courts in the borough of Tower Hamlets. Since 2007, the school has seen a remarkable turn-around under its current leadership team, beginning as a low-achieving school and now enjoying an Ofsted rating (2010/13) of ‘Outstanding’.
James Sandwith, Director of Spirit of Squash concludes: “We have been giving sporting opportunities to ever more of London’s youth, putting squash rackets into the hands of 5,685 kids in 2014.
“Giving children the chance to play sport is so important, but allowing them to learn basic life skills alongside their exercise is even better. Learning a sport, gaining from the social benefits that accompany sports participation, and then improving your maths, all in a safe and secure environment – that’s very special.”