Even the Loch Ness Monster made a rare appearance to join the fun as World Squash Day overcame Covid restrictions across the globe to relaunch the game in style.
Enthusiastic players took to the streets, uploaded crazy videos to social media sites, and also enjoyed doing what they love most – playing full or conditioned games on recently reopened courts while observing coronavirus safety guidelines.
The sport’s leading players also joined in by posting messages from the CIB Egyptian Open, which continues the PSA World Tour’s return to action today by moving play to one of the world’s most spectacular sporting arenas, an open-air glass court set up in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
World Squash Day founder Alan Thatcher, from England, said: “With all the uncertainty caused by the impact of Covid-19, we chose to focus our 2020 efforts on building the biggest social media campaign in the history of the sport.
“Fans took to the streets and an array of exotic locations across the planet to film some brilliant videos which they uploaded to our social media sites.
“We are sending some videos for forensic analysis to see if Photoshop skills may have been involved because one film from Scotland showed the Loch Ness Monster in the background.”
Thatcher was delighted with the global response. He added: “We had more than half a million engagements on our own Twitter and Facebook feeds alone. Our hashtag campaign, #whyilovesquash, was a great success.
“It looks like we achieved our targets of letting the world know that squash is still alive and reminding everyone that, while health issues dominate the news agenda, squash is one of the very best games for fun and fitness.”
He continued: “The global news cycle has become miserable and monotonous over recent months because of the pandemic so I was delighted that the game of squash was able to provide some positive, upbeat and fun news items to put a smile back on people’s faces.
“We generated some excellent TV coverage in several countries and we enjoyed phenomenal media support from around the world including the Sportageous website, based in Australia, and the Women’s Sports Network, who launched a special section for squash on World Squash Day.
“In Australia and New Zealand, it was wonderful to see some of the legends of the game, including Geoff Hunt, Sarah Fitzgerald, Carol Owens, Michelle Martin, Vicki Cardwell and Rhonda Thorne all getting involved to support World Squash Day.
“In England, former world champions Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro launched a massive Team Challenge which gives players the chance to pick a side to play for and play Covid-safe matches.
“For me, one of the highlights of the whole campaign was to see the squash scene in Lebanon still active and thriving, and players reaching out into the community to do so much good in a terrible year for the nation.”
On Sportageous, Farida Mohamed from Egypt, the world’s dominant squash nation, revealed: “I have been playing squash since I was four years old. So for me, squash is not just a sport!
“I love squash because it gets the best out of me. What I also love about squash is that it brings people together from all over the world. Squash is an amazing sport for so many reasons.”
Jacques Fontaine, President of the World Squash Federation declared: “This year World Squash Day has been an incredible success and I would like to thank Alan Thatcher and his team for triggering such a massive international exposure.
“In 2020, it is important to see so many brands making a contribution with positive initiatives aiming at supporting our sport and enhancing its role within its local and national environment.”
He also added: “Squash has demonstrated its resilience and capacity to innovate as our Members, the clubs, the players and our partners continue to find ways to maintain their activities – but I am convinced we will emerge stronger from this pandemic and our community will thrive again and creatively show why we love squash.”
During the build-up to Saturday’s activities, World Squash Day launched various community and fund-raising projects. The I-Mask company donated more than 400 adapted face shields to the health care industry across the world.
The World Squash Day Auction, organised by James Roberts in partnership with Andrew Shelley from the World Squash Library, raised funds to support the PSA Foundation’s We Are One campaign, assisting professional players experiencing hardship.
All proceeds from sales of official WSD T-shirts, produced by 305 Squash, also went to the We Are One Fund.