SquashFORWARD – the joint initiative between the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and World Squash Federation (WSF) – was formed earlier this year with the goal of engaging the next generation of squash players in order to give them the opportunity to help shape the future of the sport.
The programme brings together eight top young squash players (four young women and four young men), all under 23 years old and kicked off its activities with a series of brainstorming sessions during the Dutch Junior Open in Amsterdam in July, which took on board ideas from the younger generation with the aim to present these ideas to the wider squash community at the end of 2018.
We caught up with World No.44 Eain Yow Ng – the 20-year-old Malaysian who forms part of the SquashFORWARD line-up – to get the lowdown on why the initiative has been formed and what they have been up to over the past few months.
Eain Yow, thanks for joining us to talk about SquashFORWARD – are you able to explain a bit about what the initiative is?
Eain Yow: “Thank you, sure! SquashFORWARD is an initiative done by the Professional Squash Association and the World Squash Federation in order to make squash even more innovative and sustainable in the future.”
And are you able to tell us about your role within SquashFORWARD?
Eain Yow: “All eight of us are in SquashFORWARD in order to look for new ideas within the younger generation to help put squash in a better shape in the future.”
Over the past couple of months, some focus groups have been taking place in order to gain ideas from younger squash players so SquashFORWARD can help to drive the sport forward – could you enlighten us on what those ideas were?
Eain Yow: “Mostly they were questions for the younger generation, such as what do they think of the refereeing system and whether they prefer playing a best of five or the best of three format.
“We’ve got a lot of really interesting ideas that we can play around with and think about.”
How important do you think it is to take on the opinions of the younger generation of squash players?
Eain Yow: “I think it’s really important. Obviously the current group driving SquashFORWARD is really good but it’s always good to have ideas coming in from the new generation as they will be the ones in the future that will be playing the sport.”
Lastly, what are the next steps for SquashFORWARD?
Eain Yow: “I think the next steps are about integrating the ideas that we’ve been playing around with and trying them out at some of the events around the world in the near future.”
SquashFORWARD members have been selected from across the world, with each chosen player bringing their own perspective on the future of their sport.
Egypt’s World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and Peru’s World No.11 Diego Elias co-chair SquashFORWARD, while Eain Yow, United States’ Marina Stefanoni, France’s Victor Crouin, Ukraine’s Nadiia Usenko, Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann and Japan’s Satomi Watanabe make up the rest of the line-up.
Further focus groups will be held next month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where squash will be present as a showcase sport at the Youth Olympic Games and these sessions will be geared around innovation, sustainability, inclusiveness, legacy, education and collaboration.
The ideas generated from these sessions will then go towards finalising the SquashFORWARD roadmap, which will chart the future path for the initiative.