How to tackle the BAME issue in Squash

Equality for people from BAME backgrounds has become major talking point because of Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the world – this has also highlighted potential a racial injustice issue for junior Squash players from black backgrounds could be made unwelcome at some private clubs.

BAME Squash Player

Because of the unlawful killing of George Floyd by a police officer in the USA, whilst in custody; has resulted in several Black Live Matter issues being brought to the attention in the media and protests across the world for justice.

Diversity in Squash

In a recent article on our friends Squash Mad, in which a Director of a grassroots Squash highlighted this as a potential problem for young black junior squash players, when it comes to racial equality at squash clubs reopen after the COVID-19 restrictions have been eased.

Without getting my soapbox, there is no place for racism in any sport.

Independent Squash club owners need to think with their heads not let negative opinions deter them,  when it comes to allowing black people to their clubs, especially when their venues have lost out on months of revenue.

Fortunately, in the UK there have been no cases of young black squash player facing racism at Squash clubs in the UK.

More representation on and off the court

To remedy this issue, a few things can help bring Squash to bring forefront of BAME culture:

1.) Increase media coverage of BAME Squash countries

The news of the Squash success in the Caribbean not made known because of lack of international media coverage.

With Squash, people of all cultures and rapidly growing in countries of black origin, notably the Caribbean – both Guyana and Jamaica boasts the most successful junior teams in the region.

If international news channels report that Squash players from Jamaican or Guyana is taking part in or won a major Squash tournament, it would make young black children take up the sport.

2.) Promote BAME Squash stars more

In this modern era, there are some news stories about up and coming black Squash players from England or those from the Caribbean.

As some who grew up in the 1980s, there was no mention of black Squash players on the professional circuit, especially from the UK – only white Squash players.

Despite this, Squash stars like Jahangir Khan inspired me to play the sport but only on a recreational level, however family members of mine knew of a lot of their peers from BAME backgrounds who could have turned pro.

3.) Recruit more BAME Squash coaches at Squash clubs

There is a lack of black Squash coaches at private Squash clubs; this could be the reason behind why there is a is lack in interest, especially at a grassroots level in which young black players can aspire to or access to Squash coach education as a Plan B.

To tackle this, made it mandatory that all future PE teachers take up Squash coach qualification; and then deliver coaching sessions at local squash clubs – including the private ones managed by committees; this would improve community relations.

Another solution let BAME Squash players do a weekly masterclass at a local squash club.

Final thoughts

In the last few months, COVID-19 has a negative impact on the economy, but the death of George Floyd by a racist cop in the USA has brought race prejudice by companies has become known.

Despite this, Squash needs to dispel the old age ‘country club style operation’ and work harder to encourage more black people to take up the sport.

From personal experience working in Squash clubs, I saw very few black Squash players at the clubs and had an avid interest in the sport – however, when one club I worked at created more leagues to encourage black people to take up the sport. It worked, and this boosted participation amongst young people from BAME backgrounds to take up the sport despite not having a BAME Squash coach.

To sum up, the Black Lives Matter has brought many issues faced by black people in today’s society, thus change in professions, or activities where there is a lack of representation from BAME. This is also extends to Squash governing bodies having board BAME members.

Thankfully, the PSA World Ambassador tour is helping to bring the sport to emerging markets in which Squash to forefront of sporting culture.

We as an organisation are working towards this by collaborating with an independent squash club operator.

Overall, Squash is a true global sport played by people of all cultures; they treat it just needs to do more to ensure people from BAME backgrounds with the same level of respect within the clubs and on the professional circuit.