11 November 2011
World Squash Day was an outstanding success in attracting a new generation of female participants to the sport.
Events took place all over the world as clubs opened their doors to offer free activities to females of all ages.
The most outstanding project took place in Johannesburg, where 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.”
Elsewhere in the world, Athens forgot about currency problems for a while to enjoy World Squash Day at the Vari Club. The Greek women’s national team, the Balkan champions known as the Golden Girls, played exhibition matches and gave free coaching to newcomers and club members.
In New Zealand, home of former world champions Susan Devoy and Carol Owens, squash leaders are taking the message even further by extending their programme from a single day to a whole year. Squash New Zealand have designated 2012 as the Year of Women’s Squash to increase female participation.
Japan’s leading international women players chose World Squash Day to launch a campaign to gain more awareness for the sport to support the World Squash Federation’s bid for squash to gain a place in the 2020 Olympic Games.
A Squash Mania doubles tournament in Moscow attracted more than 130 players to illustrate the growth of the sport in Russia.
Activities across many clubs in Ireland featured an inflatable squash court and attracted many newcomers to the sport.
Newcastle’s Eldon Leisure Centre in England, a former home of the British National Championship, held a women’s tournament and open day.
In Kent, The Mote Squash Club held a day of fun and fitness activity to attract new female players to squash and plans are afoot to launch a new county-wide competition for women, the Kent Grand Prix Series.