The true impact of COVID-19 on Squash

With Squash clubs across England not operating because of second lockdown, the true impact on the sport is far greater than people expect.

Across the news platforms, there has been stories explaining how squash clubs have suffered financially in the form of a suspension of memberships, but in terms of development at a grassroots level, the sport could face a potential loss in interest because there’s no way maintaining interest.

Compared to the bigger venues, with strong financial resources; some non-affiliated Squash clubs have taken to crowdfunding for financial support to keep their venues open.

Take for instance, Rob Waller, owner/Director of Woodfield Squash & Leisure, launched a crowdfunding campaign to help save his excellent venue from closure. In the video he discusses why the facility is crucial to the local community of Doncaster:

This video shows the extent of how the government needs to provide funds to help community sports venues from closure, aligned lobby  landlords to be more lenient with their tenants.

We reckon it would be nice for the government’s Department For Culture, Media & Sport to support those Squash clubs operated by community groups.

Having seen so many Squash clubs face closure over the years, it’s about time an emergency fund created by funding groups or financial institutions in the form of grants for smaller Squash clubs, just like Woodfield Squash & Leisure; why? Well, in the first wave of the pandemic, hospitality and theatre businesses got financial support and we all know Squash is the healthiest sport for the people of ages, so it would justify the funding as an essential for people’s physical wellbeing.

Let’s us forget, the grassroots has suffered with venues being shutdown to prevent spread of coronavirus amongst children, so once again sport is beneficial to young people in keeping their minds sharp and allowing them to concentrate.

Ironically, one emerging nation is rebuilding in order to host its major tournaments, and a major Squash tournament took place without an audience in attendance – but is this enough to maintain interest? It could be in keeping interest of the sport alive.

National governing body plan recovery

Previously we have said it requires a global manifesto for all national squash governing bodies to adhere to as means to ensure Squash provision returns at the same time.

With one such nation, Jamaica is working hard towards a return to competitive Squash both regional and international levels.
Obviously, COVID-19 restrictions have prevented local and regional tournament taking place the country will look rearrange tournaments in 2021 in line with social distancing guidelines.

By working with relevant health authorities would allow the senior and Junior CASA events to take place in 2021, from which the organisers can the safety of the senior players and ensure the juniors can play.

Already the association is working hard with health authorities on whether to consider participation in major international competitions such as the 2021 Men’s World Teams Championships and the Commonwealth Games scheduled for 2022 – both tournaments are vital to Squash participation in Jamaica, in terms of future development.

Competitive Squash goes on

With recreational Squash on lockdown, fans could rejoice that there was competitive Squash was taking place in the form of the Qatar Classic.

Ali Farag (current world no.1) retained his Qatar Classic title after beating World No.5 Paul Coll in the final of the PSA World Tour Platinum tournament held in Doha, Qatar.

Ali Farag

Ali Farag (Professional Squash Association)

For Farag, it he has now won 21st PSA title and puts him in the sport’s elite in terms of titles and legend status with his compatriots with success across the world.

In the coming days there will be tournaments taking place in Egypt and England – this shows promise the sport can continue without an audience – the added television coverage is going to help bolster the event; so let’s hope free-to-air TV coverage of Squash could be more prominent in 2021.

Final Thoughts

Considering the seriousness of the pandemic, Squash has a future, as we know the sport can become a strong with its ability to adapt in the form of e-sports and hopefully more outdoor Squash courts.

Governments need to realise that sports venues can operate in line with the social distancing guidelines and social bubbles to prevent the spread of the virus.

Concerning grassroots Squash, a lot needs to done to ensure children can play the sport under less regimental restrictions, along with more guidelines to help them play socially, so they can continue to play the sport and maintain interest.

As we said before, a global manifesto is need for all Squash nations with measures for all governing bodies to follow as means to bringing

the back in addition allow tournaments such as the Necker Mauritius Open to take place in line with COVID-19 rules.

To sum up, with 2021 just a couple of months away, let’s hope the sport can return to prominence with a host of tournaments and at a grassroots level more opportunities for young people across the world, thanks to a global manifesto.