World Squash Day was originally launched in honour of Derek Sword, a former Scottish junior international squash player who moved to America and was the squash champion at New York Athletic Club.
Derek worked at the World Trade Center and was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York. He was friends with Scottish squash stars Peter Nicol and Martin Heath, and had become engaged to be married just two weeks before the terrible and tragic events of 9/11.
In honor of Derek’s memory, a number of friends got together to do something special to honour him, and at the same time do something tangible for the sport of squash. Hence the birth of World Squash Day.
The first World Squash Day event took place on January 11 2002 when a New York team travelled to the UK to play a London team at the famous Lambs Club, which has sadly been demolished since. (It was once described by Jahangir Khan as the greatest squash club in the world).
The Derek Sword Trophy is now competed for annually between teams from New York and the UK. Two of the matches have taken place in Scotland at the superb Edinburgh Sports Club, which houses the only full-sized American doubles court in Europe.
That first World Squash Day in 2002 also included an eight-man invitation tournament that featured leading stars such as Peter Nicol, John White, Paul Price, Peter Marshall and Alister Walker.
It was fantastic to see the leading professionals give up their time to support such a special occasion.
World Squash Day is endorsed by the World Squash Federation and a different theme is chosen each year.
In 2009 the theme was “Squash for 2016″ and an amazing number of events took place worldwide to support squash’s bid for a place in the Olympics.
The website contains a massive portfolio of images taken by squash enthusiasts at iconic locations all over the planet.
Events also included a rock star doing a bungee jump off a bridge in New Zealand and a massive Battle Of The Border featuring more than 500 players in the USA.
The idea was to raise the profile of the sport, to raise money for the Olympic bid, and to demonstrate that squash enjoys a truly global appeal.
In Malaysia, more than 40 events took place, with several involving world champion Nicol David, who has always supported the aims of World Squash Day.
Some national federations are more supportive than others. Some embrace the concept with considerable enthusiasm. Those who do not get involved to the same extent are missing a significant opportunity to promote the sport.
The theme for 2010 was 20/10 for 2010. The aim was to encourage squash clubs all over the world to attract 20 new junior members and 10 new senior members to the sport. For 2011 the theme was “Here come the Girls”, to encourage new female players to take up the sport.
The theme for this year, 2012, will once again be to support squash’s Olympic aspirations. This time we will be backing the bid by the WSF for inclusion in the 2020 Games, which will be voted on by the IOC in 2013.
We are already planning some blockbuster events for next year to support the Olympic bid and would welcome any suggestions from squash lovers anywhere in the world to help raise the profile of our fantastic sport.