The 20th anniversary edition of World Squash Day is primed to deliver a global revival for the sport with an action-packed schedule of events across the globe on Saturday (October 9th).
World Squash Day was born in the USA to honour the memory of the large number of squash players who lost their lives in the attacks on 9/11.
Fittingly, one of the highlights this year includes special appearances by some of the world’s leading stars at the world’s first outdoor steel court in New York to support plans to build open-air facilities to increase the visibility of the sport.
Egypt’s world No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy will be joining Indian stars Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa, plus New Zealand’s Joelle King, in a day of exhibitions taking place at the Maspeth steel court in Queens.
The project is supported by the PSA Foundation, which is also involved in numerous other outdoor projects including two courts planned for Chicago and a four-court centre now up and running in El Salvador.
PSA Foundation director Adriana Olaya said: “It’s great to be in New York to celebrate World Squash Day and to support a movement that could help to transform squash at grassroots level.”
Also in New York, the Manhattan Community Squash Centre is relaunching on World Squash Day with a new brand name of Open Squash.
They will also be staging the first tournament for club players to be held in the Big Apple for two years, a joint endeavour between Open Squash and New York Squash.
On the day they will officially announce a major partnership featuring Egypt’s world champion Ali Farag and rising England star Georgina Kennedy, both graduates of Harvard University.
They will act as touring pros representing Open Squash and support their community squash programs.
To encourage individuals from all backgrounds to take up squash, Open Squash is driving a campaign that allows players on lower incomes to enjoy reduced membership fees.
In Philadelphia, the recently opened Arlen Specter US National Squash Center will host a community open day to follow on from this week’s successful staging of the US Open.
At opposite ends of the planet, federations in Scotland and New Zealand are partnering with health awareness groups to promote the fitness benefits associated with squash.
In New Zealand, Districts and clubs are dedicating World Squash Day to a new partnership with the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation.
Geographically, New Zealand is always the first nation on the planet to host World Squash Day events and Squash NZ Chief Executive Martin Dowson said: “New Zealand will be the first nation in the world to begin the day’s events and we look forward to an opportunity to highlight the positive aspects of the sport.
“Our purpose to ‘continue to enhance the health and happiness of our communities via playing squash and a sense of belonging in our clubs’ has meant working with the Mental Health Foundation of NZ to bring our organisations together to create the perfect partnership.
“We aim to create a society free of discrimination and where everyone can enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing. Exercise, connectivity, and a sense of belonging plays a large role in everyone’s wellbeing.
“We will be opening our doors to everyone in the public for everyone to enjoy our great game. We will also be participating in a 12-hour Squash marathon from 8am to 8pm on the day.”
The Heart of Scotland Appeal and Scottish Squash have launched a campaign called “Squash The Stigma” to dispel fears that the sport places players at increased risk of suffering a heart attack.
The campaign will also encourage communities to get active, with health surveys listing squash as one of the best sports for prolonging life.
Heart Research UK’s Heart of Scotland Appeal will be working with Scottish Squash to encourage more people to take up squash, with the aim of helping people to become more active and to improve their cardiovascular health.
Scottish Squash said: “An active lifestyle is great for our hearts, so we are encouraging individuals to try the game to keep their hearts healthy. We are delighted to be working with Heart Research UK’s Heart of Scotland Appeal.”
In England, numerous events are taking to promote squash during the countdown to next year’s Commonwealth Games being staged in Birmingham.
The Squash United group are taking two mini squash courts produced by Melior Sports to a variety of events around The Midlands and this Saturday they will be set up at the University of Birmingham, which is hosting the Games squash programme next year.
England stars Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters will be on site to lend their support.
The British Universities BUCS group is also encouraging every university with squash courts to hold open days to attract new players to the game.
The world’s biggest squash league, England’s North West Counties League, has encouraged every club to get involved on World Squash Day, complete with marketing support from England Squash.
Egypt currently dominates the sport at professional level and the spectacular Black Ball Club in Cairo will once again be holding a special event on World Squash Day.
The Black Ball Championship has attracted an entry of 750 players in every junior age group, plus Masters events for players over-35 and over-45.
The club’s CEO Mohamed Raef said: “Once again we are delighted to support World Squash Day. The Championship, held in partnership with the Egyptian Squash Federation, gives us the opportunity to continue our policy of spreading the game of squash and encouraging new ‘squash buds’ aged between five and nine to join the sport that we all love.
“We are proud to host major international PSA events including the Black Ball Open on our permanent glass showcourt which helps to support professional players. We will continue to host international training camps, attract new sponsors to the sport, and co-operate with parties all over the world to help showcase the game.”
Large parts of south-east Australia are still under lockdown but further up the coast the Daisy Hill Club in Brisbane is planning a 34-hour marathon to raise funds for junior squash in Queensland.
Daisy Hill club owner Brad Hindle, a former PSA player, said: “We will be playing for 2032 minutes. The idea is also to support squash getting into the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. We have players booked to take part right through the night and the club will be buzzing, with squash legends and civic dignitaries popping in.
“We want to raise funds for the next generation of juniors and we would love to see a local squash player competing in the Olympics in Brisbane in 2032.”
The Squash Skills and Squash Levels online community has recruited world No.9 Joel Makin to challenge members to beat his score of 35 backhand drives in one minute.
They are also setting up a World Squash Day community page for members to post news of their activities around the world to help grow the grass roots of the game.
World Squash Federation president Zena Wooldridge said: “We wanted this 20th anniversary World Squash Day to be the most important yet as an opportunity to bring the global squash community together behind this great campaign.
“The response of Squash Nations across the world has been hugely encouraging, and we look forward to seeing the many amazing stories of all generations of players having fun as World Squash Day rolls out across the globe on Saturday.”
World Squash Day organiser Alan Thatcher, from England, said: “It’s great to see so much energy going into so many fantastic events and projects taking place and being launched on Saturday. The events promoting outdoor courts are particularly exciting.”
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