Home Counties Squash Academies under threat

Several weeks into the New Year, once again the future of junior squash participation is under threat with news of the potential removal of squash courts at a local leisure centre, a volunteer-run squash club, and a well-established hotel with championship-level squash courts.

Towards the end of 2015, GLL announced a review of the facilities at the Bath Sports and Leisure Centre, which they manage on behalf of the Bath & North East Somerset Council. As a result of media speculation, this prompted the Bath Squash League to launch an online petition to save squash courts at the leisure centre as a result of rumours that were courts are subject to a potential removal to make way for new facilities.

To sign the petition visit: http://bit.ly/savesquashcourts_bathleisurecentre

bath sports and leisure centre squash courts

Photo Credit: Paul Harding/PA Archive/PA Images – courtesy of Bath Chronicle

Over 100 squash players, who play league games and deliver coaching sessions to young people, have come together to lobby Martin Veal (Cons, Bathavon North) MP to help save the courts. To date, over 500 names have signed the petition to save the courts from closure.

Cambridge Squash Club

Photo credit: Cambridge News

Meanwhile in Cambridge, despite being closed last year squash players at the Cambridge Squash Club were looking for a reprieve and to continue the legacy of delivering junior squash coaching sessions to local children.

The local authority was looking to demolish the club to use the land to build 27 residential homes with 3/4 bedrooms.

Yeah, everyone needs homes but Squash courts are important too – why not consider a joint purpose venue with homes and Squash courts. Something like this could be the benchmark in a new way of living and sport without traveling too far to get fit.

Spotlight on Swindon Squash 

South Marston Squash Club

Photo credit: South Marston Squash Club Swindon Advertiser

Further afield, in Swindon, the biggest shock in the potential closure of the South Marston Hotel has been home to the Wiltshire Junior Squash and the South Marston Squash Club, because of financial losses. For the full story visit: http://bit.ly/1UCQ0Y1

With a strong following in the local community and over 150 youngsters playing squash, the potential closure could have a serious impact on the future of junior squash, as the demand for squash has increased and to a report by the Wiltshire Squash & Rackets Association (WSRA) stated the South Marston facility is excellent which no other facility could compete with.

Management failure cause of Squash court closure

Why are these squash academies under threat of closure? Maybe it is a management issue, in terms of lack of support from the head office or lack of extensive coverage of squash in local or national media.

Perhaps it is time the England Squash Association flex its strategic muscle in form of some financial support to these squash academies as part of their manifesto to increase squash participation amongst the youth.

Alternatively, see about building Squash courts in venues with a capacity of 35,000 sq ft or less, and put in for a change of use to develop it.

For the Cambridge Squash Club, it is a sad story because the facility has been around for a number of years and is managed by a team of volunteers.

These blue-chip hospitality companies and leisure management companies need to understand with squash is a great sport to have as part of their junior activities portfolio, for the following reasons:

  • Laura Massaro finished 2015 as World Ladies no.1
  • Participation in junior squash has shown growth in 2015
  • Forbes Magazine and the NHS rated Squash one of the healthiest sport in the world

If these reasons are not enough to keep squash courts as a part of the local sports development programmes within the local community, it would be a sad day for squash, as kids from certain inner-city or town will lose out.