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Dec James (light green, back row) was in Nottingham for World Squash Day

PSA Stars Out In Force For World Squash Day

Plenty of past and present PSA World Tour stars shared their energy and passion for the game at some amazing events on every continent to help to raise the profile of the sport and attract a wave of new players.

Three-time World Champion Nick Matthew spearheaded a campaign by England Squash to attract at least 5,000 new players on the day. Matthew’s home club of Hallamshire in Sheffield held a week-long campaign to launch the new season in the build-up to some fun events on World Squash Day itself.

Matthew and Sarah-Jane Perry took part in promotional videos to launch the campaign, which seems certain to smash the initial target figure.

Scotland’s Greg Lobban and New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson joined English coach Taylor at his Infinitum Academy in Boston, Massachussetts as they coached a large group of juniors before taking to the court for an exhibition match.

Greg Lobban (light blue, back row) and Campbell Grayson, (navy, back row) were in Massachusetts on Saturday

British number one Joel Makin popped in to the Hirwaun club near Aberdare in Wales. He explained: “The club is just down the road from my house. It was originally called Aberdare but rebuilt a few years ago and renamed Hirwaun. It was great fun to see so many members and newcomers enjoy World Squash Day.”

Declan James and his manager Daryl Selby, who have both held the England number one position this season, both took to the court. James was down with the kids at Nottingham, while Selby led his family’s Off The Wall WSD session in Essex.

In India, former national champion Ritwik Bhattacharya held three events in, supported by former Trinity College player Sachika Balvani. Two were at military bases and one staged at his Start Academy headquarters which provides squash training for tribal children.

Across the border, Pakistani greats Jahangir Khan, Jansher Khan and Qamar Zaman supported events in Peshawar and Islamabad. Zaman displayed his legendary trickery to beat the eight-times world champion Jansher 11-9 in a special one-game challenge! Jahangir, who won the British Open 10 years ina row, supported a massive event in Islamabad.

Maria Toorpakai, who famously fled Pakistan to avoid persecution for playing squash as a child, returned home to hold a coaching session for girls, which showed how times and cultures are evolving.

She said: “We distributed sport equipment and squash rackets among girls in Peshawar. We were pleased to welcome a few children with disabilities. Every girl, every child should feel included, encouraged and supported.”

She then Tweeted support for the World Squash Day event held in Iran which also showed a large number of females taking to the court. Meanwhile, Egypt is proudly leading the way with support for female athletes in the Muslim world.

The Black Ball Sporting Club, host of two major PSA events in New Cairo, attracted TV coverage and had a visit from the Minister for Youth and Sport when they held a World Squash Day event to promote the game with dozens of juniors in attendance.

The Black Ball Sporting Club getting involved with World Squash Day

Squash Director Ashraf Hanafi said: “It was a fantastic day and we recruited more than 200 new junior members, many of them from local schools. The TV coverage was broadcast at a peak time and was seen by millions of people on Egypt’s main TV sports programme.”

At the other end of the continent, the World Squash Day event at Camps Bay Squash Club in South Africa featured a game called Street Racket designed to offer a cheap introduction to racket sports with no courts required.

Camps Bay is the home club to former pros Stuart Hailstone, Trevor Wilkinson, Gunner Way, Grant Isaacs, Craig Wapnick and Mark Allen.

World Squash Day was celebrated in America with events that coincided with the finals of the US Open, with a number of clubs concluding their day’s events by watching the two finals live on SquashTV.

At a special luncheon in Philadelphia before the finals, US Squash inducted Ginny Akabane and Bunny Vosters into the United States Squash Hall of Fame.

Further south, the Squashinhos project in Brazil took to the courts to provide exercise and education in a safe environment for children in Rio de Janeiro.

The campaign’s leader, English coach Danny Lee, held a timed tournament fund-raiser at the St George’s Hill Club in Weybridge, England.

He has launched a Just Giving page to raise funds for the project and said: “Squashinhos is a sports and educational development project which helps suffering children from communities in Rio de Janeiro. Three times a week they receive English and squash lessons.

“The aims is to create a social and healthy learning environment for these children, opening their eyes to another world away from drugs and weapons.”

Social media was ablaze with World Squash Day activities throughout the weekend, with loads of fun themes, including a limerick competition launched by Patrick Kidd, the venerable Diary Editor of The Times newspaper in London.

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