An estimated 250,000+ people were exposed to squash during the 2019 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions which took place inside New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal last week.
With many commuters stopping to enjoy the action, the tournament organisers were also keen to give an opportunity to the disadvantaged communities around the city to enjoy squash first-hand. Local children from New York’s Urban Squash programmes – CitySquash and StreetSquash – had the opportunity to test their skills against legends of the sport, including former World No.1s Peter Nicol and James Willstrop.
One of the most popular tournaments on the PSA calendar, the Tournament of Champions uses an all-glass court, which is constructed annually inside Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall – demonstrating squash's unparalleled ability to showcase a city’s iconic locations during a live sporting event.
“It is exciting to be able to present the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in such a popular and well-known public location as Grand Central. The ToC gives the whole sport a big lift in the USA,” said Tournament Director and Founder John Nimick.
Former World No.1 Peter Nicol on court at the Tournament of Champions
“Encouraging grassroots participation from all backgrounds is one of the key objectives for squash and involving young people from squash’s urban education programmes in such an iconic tournament on the PSA World Tour helps inspire these young talents towards a brighter future. As squash is vying to be included in the Olympic programme, we hope to be able to share our experience in this field,” said Alex Gough, PSA CEO.
The CitySquash programme – based in the Bronx, New York – aims to help talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds fulfil their academic, athletic and personal potential while the StreetSquash urban programme also provides consistent, long-term and reliable support to the children, families and schools in Harlem and Newark.
Both programmes are part of the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA) which launches and leads youth programmes that combine squash, academics, mentoring, travel, college support and career readiness. Their programmes enrol more than 2,500 children in 22 U.S. cities and five locations abroad with 95% of their U.S. graduates going to college.
The SEA is a concept that is now spreading to other parts of the world and continuing to grow, this is shown through the likes of the Rackets Cubed programme, which is based in London and supported by the Professional Squash Association’s charitable arm – the PSA Foundation.