Politicians and squash stars are joining forces to support World Squash Day, which is taking place tomorrow (Saturday October 14).
As well as promoting the health benefits of the sport, Tom Pursglove (MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire in England) is helping local enthusiasts in their bid to build a new squash club.
Campaigner James Roberts said: “With a population of more than 65,000, Corby is the biggest town in Engand without squash courts. We aim to change that and plan to build a new club in the town. We are very pleased to have the support of our local MP.”
Mr Pursglove will be getting on court during an Open Day at Uppingham School Sports Centre on Saturday morning.
He said: “I am greatly looking forward to attending the free taster sessions at Uppingham School on World Squash Day, and commend James on his campaign to try and get some squash courts built in Corby.
“It would be great to get some squash courts in Corby, and I would encourage all local people to come down and give squash a try!”
Roberts added: “I moved back to the Corby area after some years and was horrified to find that all the squash courts had gone.
World Squash Day is an annual event to promote the sport and the 2017 edition is held on Saturday October 14
“By my reckoning, with a population of over 65,000 and with ambitions to grow even more, this already makes Corby the largest town in the UK that has no squash courts. This is ironic given that the town had managed to ditch its title as the largest town in the UK without a railway station!
“Now we want to get squash back on the tracks in Corby. World Squash Day is the perfect vehicle for promoting such a good cause.
“As well as the event at Uppingham School, my current club, Market Harborough, is holding a special event with juniors playing in a World Team event. All the kids will be split up into different groups representing different nations, which, with 20 million squash players in something like 200 nations, is a great way of illustrating that global spread of the sport.”
Christina Rees, a former Wales international with more than 100 international caps, is now MP for Neath and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.
She said: “Squash has given me so much in my life. After playing many sports, including tennis, I discovered squash in my early twenties. After a few months I had a Welsh trial and was so honoured to be selected to represent Wales at the Home Internationals. I represented Wales many times and have over 100 caps.
“It was never my intention to become a coach, but was persuaded by Mike Workman, Director of Coaching and Development at Welsh Squash and Racketball, to take that step and went on to become a Level 3 and National Welsh Coach.
“I never thought that representing Wales could be surpassed, but coaching a child from beginner to achieving National honours is a wonderful feeling.
Former Welsh No.1 Christina Rees
“Squash improved my fitness, discipline, made me aware of the benefits of healthy eating and the friends I have made over the years are precious to me. As a coach, I saw how my players developed into all round personalities. I am still in contact with Mike and my players and go to watch Welsh events.
“Since becoming MP for Neath in May 2015, I have endeavoured to raise the profile of squash in Westminster and have campaigned for squash to be included in the Olympic Games.
“I have formed an All Party Group for Squash and Racketball and held a Westminster Hall Debate. There are plans to hold further Parliamentary events in the run up to the 2024 Bid for squash to be included in the Paris Olympics. My love for squash is well known.
“If I was asked to sum up squash, it's like ‘Chess on Legs!’ Good luck to everybody taking part on World Squash Day in clubs large and small.”
Another MP, Rehman Chishti, member of Parliament for Rainham and Gillingham in Kent, said: “As someone who tries to regularly play squash at 06:30 in the morning before work, I have to say it is a fantastic game for all ages, all levels, and a great way to keep fit and healthy. I highly recommend it to everyone.”
World Squash Day is endorsed by the World Squash Federation and the Professional Squash Association (PSA), and national federations are encouraging clubs to open their doors to attract new participants to a game that has frequently been rated the healthiest sport to play.
In the USA, Kristi Maroc, the Head Coach and Managing Partner of San Diego Squash, will be hosting a ‘USA versus The World’ one-day tournament which will promote the international flavour of the game.
US No.1 Amanda Sobhy
Kristi said: “We have a very international community here, with over 20 nationalities represented in our squash group, so it’ll be a lot of fun. We’ll have the barbecue going all day too. My fellow coach Hugo Varela is from Spain, so that’s another nationality!”
Last year the San Diego World Squash Day event featured former world champions Thierry Lincou and Peter Nicol, the founding president of WSD when it was launched to commemorate the many squash players who were killed in the 9/11 attacks on New York.
Australian No.2 Cameron Pilley, who won the World Doubles Championship with Ryan Cuskelly in Manchester recently, was happy to endorse World Squash Day.
He said: “World Squash Day seems to be getting bigger and better every year and it’s so positive to see clubs all around the world get behind WSD.
“I am looking forward to seeing the different and fun ideas clubs come up with this year to promote our great game. See you on court!”
Cameron Pilley (right) taking on Marwan ElShorbagy (left) during the 2016 Oracle NetSuite Open
Squash Australia released the following statement:
“World Squash Day is a fantastic sporting initiative led by WSF and PSA to celebrate, support and grow the sport that we love. Over the years Squash Australia has supported WSD and seen the impact of the campaign not only across Australia but across the world.
“At Squash Australia, we encourage all clubs and players to get behind us with our support of WSD and to promote squash to the wider community highlighting the diversity, intensity and excitement of the sport. We have had numerous examples of Australian athletes supporting WSD in the past and we hope to see more again this year.”
In England, former world champions Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro are urging clubs to organise events to attract new players to the sport.
Nick Matthew in action
Three-time World Champion Matthew said: “World Squash Day is a great opportunity to showcase the game to a new audience, not just the health benefits of squash but how much fun it can be.
“Any initiative that can help to get people through the door of squash clubs to try squash for the first time has to be supported and World Squash Day is doing this on a global scale, which is great. Despite me 'hopefully' being in Philadelphia (for the US Open) I'm sure my local club, Hallamshire, will be supporting the day.”
Massaro, women’s World Champion in 2014, added: “I am very passionate about getting more girls and women to play squash and World Squash Day is a fantastic opportunity for people who may never have tried squash to give it a go.”
Matthew and Massaro hope to be celebrating World Squash Day by appearing in the finals of the US Open. Both will be competing in the semi-finals tonight (October 13), Matthew against reigning champion Mohamed ElShorbagy and Massaro coming up against another Egyptian, Nour El Tayeb.
Matthew’s home club, Hallamshire in Sheffield, is having a busy day on Saturday, hosting an inter counties girls Under-19 event and holding a handicap squash event for World Squash Day. All entries from the squash event will be going to Unicef.
In Moscow’s National Squash Centre, Head Coach Alexey Severinov, a former PSA professional, says he wants visitors on World Squash Day to become “addicted to squash”.
He said: “No one can resist squash. Everyone who has ever played squash comes back to the to courts again and again. World Squash Day in Moscow is a day of open doors for everyone who wants to test this game and – as we really do hope – start his or her own story of playing squash.
“We will have free lessons from coaches, exhibitions from professional players and our weekly “Subbotnik” Saturday club for existing squash lovers.
“The Centre will be open from 11am to 8pm for kids and adults. We will fill their day with bright emotions and impressions, we will show them all why we love squash, and will do our best to attract more people to be addicted to squash like the rest of us are!”
As an extra special touch, they will be handing out free gingerbread cakes baked in the shape of a squash racket!
Clubs can upload news and images of their events on the World Squash Day Facebook page.
WORLD SQUASH DAY: For further information, please contact Alan Thatcher at email@example.com