Many could say that 2016 was a great year for Squash; we have selected the five moments that stood out for us and made Squash popular again.
Despite the Olympic snub, there is no denying that squash has made the headlines in 2016.
Okay the news of Bath Sports and Leisure Centre removing their Squash courts by GLL was not a great start to the year, but it got people talking about Squash – which translated into plans to revive the sport with local squash communities promoting their squash activities, which showed encouraging signs of an increase in junior squash participation.
The overall news coverage of the sport both in the UK and abroad has been great, thus the key moments in Squash of 2016 that caught our eye:
1) The success of Hong Kong Open, China
This tournament received excellent reviews by the squash community fans and many squash players felt that this event could serve as a catalyst to the event format at the Olympics.
The impact of this event in China was hit with local fans giving a welcome reception to all the players; from which the success of the event will translate into creating more feeder initiatives of Squash that will make the International Olympic Committee (IOC) realise the global appeal of Squash and why it should make an Olympic Sport.
Furthermore, the success of the tournament lead to UK Parliamentary figures lobbying the IOC to get Squash into the Olympics in 2024. As a result one such MP, who happens to be a former Squash champion and former Welsh squash number 1 – Christina Rees MP for Neath in Wales, published a report titled Squash and the Olympic Games, made the issue of getting Squash into the Olympics a topic for debate in the UK Houses of Parliament in July 2016.
2) Rising star Chris Binnie
The news of a rising Squash star from Jamaica is great news as our founder as he and the other Directors are both of Jamaican parentage. In 2016, Chris Binnie (on the left), is the current Jamaican Squash No.1 moved up the Professional Squash Association (PSA) ranking of 89th place. We strongly believe, he is definitely on the road to winning world championships in Squash and will serve with other players from Jamaica as a great role model for the next generation of players.
3) U.K. Squash players making waves – Nick Matthews and Laura Massora
Laura Massora began 2016 as world no.1 and won the China Open in September, but for us the key moment was when she gave her opinion on the Olympic snub by one top golfer. Meanwhile, with Nick Matthews, he made headlines speaking out about the great injustice of squash not featured in the Olympics again as well as progressing to the finals of the US Open in October.
However, news of him lobbying to get Squash into the Olympics by tweeting about his interviews with athletes going to Rio made him a hero too many squash enthusiasts. Let us not forget the senior and junior squash team’s success at the Belgium Open Squash Tournament in March; thus, the success will cascade to the squash academies around England, with the hope of more initiatives to get young people to play squash at their local club.
4) The Caribbean Junior Squash development continues to grow
In the Caribbean, we were pleased to see the squash participation amongst the juniors in the Jamaica continue to grow with news of teams taking part in tournaments in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Despite finishing fifth in the tournament, this bodes well for the team in 2017 tournaments as a goal to win.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Barbados, their junior squash team won a record six gold medals in the individual competition at 34th annual Caribbean Junior Squash Championships in the Cayman Islands.
5) The development of the squash centre for excellence
In July 2016, we mentioned in our blog about Squash is transforming a community with the development of Squash centres for excellence as a part of a sports inclusion initiative for young people with disability. This kind of act means that squash has its mass appeal and will serve a catalyst to increasing squash participation. Furthermore, once Squash is in the Olympics, will also have a place in the Para-Olympics.
Squash to continue grow in 2017……
To conclude, in our opinion, these moments have helped raise the profile of Squash in 2016. Along with the study by sports researchers, acknowledging that Squash and its racquet cousins are the best sports to participate in order to prolong life. This is very encouraging for Squash development in 2017; thus, we hope that IOC members come to their senses and give Squash its rightful place in the 2024 Olympics Games.