How a global Squash manifesto can help tackle COVID-19

In order for Squash across to get back on an even playing field, would it not make better sense for the global governing bodies to work together along their governments on manifesto to allow people to back to playing Squash with framework to help tackle COVID-19?

This could be workable, as Squash in Switzerland has resumed, following an agreement with government on social distancing protocols. Now under the guidelines, all Squash players in Switzerland will follow a set of routines as showed in a series of videos made available on their ‘Squash Training’ online portal (below):

Swiss Squash Training Portal

Photo: Swiss Squash Training Portal (credit: Swiss Squash)

Whereas Latvia is planned to reopen on 12 May; meanwhile Germany was instigating a partial reopening programme of sports facilities – which includes gyms – between 11 and 18 May.

Across the Atlantic both Canada and USA announced their plans to reopen Squash clubs once they have guidance for clubs once they get the green light by their health & safety commission.

However, Italy put a spanner in the works, stating in a published report by their researchers, ranking squash among the most ‘risky’ sports for COVID-19 infection. Let us not forget, Italy had the worst cases of COVID-19 cases, in fact they were first European country to go into total lockdown; thus, it seems Squash will not be reopening there soon.

The fundamental concern in Italy with Squash, as it is indoor sport; the researchers suggested that Squash clubs must have measures in place to safeguard the safety and welfare of the players.

Hence, this shows a case for a global Squash manifesto on managing COVID-19 in clubs, for all Squash governing bodies to adopt, rather than one country at a time reopening their Squash club at different times.

Input from the World Health Organisation

To handle the risks associated with COVID-19 within Squash clubs, there should input from the World Health Organisation (WHO), to advise all governing bodies on a framework to for all Squash participation at tournaments and clubs.

Yes, there has been stick about how the WHO has handled the pandemic, public bodies such as Sport England can contribute the framework.

In such a global Squash manifesto on tackling COVID-19, would cover the following areas of player safety:

  • Allotted time to practice
  • New health & safety measures on/off the courts
  • Rules for clothing for players keeping them from infection from another player
  • Safeguards for junior Coaching sessions
  • How to keep courts clean during quieter times
  • New sportsmanship etiquette after a game
  • Spectators safety at inter-club tournaments

With a global manifesto covering the above areas with framework, it will help for every affiliated or non-affiliated Squash club, reopen with less risk, and give confidence to their members to return.

Tackling outdoor Squash

Outdoor Public Squash Court

Outdoor Squash Court (Image credit: ASB Squash Courts)

When the concept of outdoor Squash courts came about in the US, we saw this as a brilliant way to make the sport more accessible for people, who have never considered the sport as a pastime and add to the fabric of a park.

However, since the COVID-19 outbreak it seems there have been no discussions about the outdoor Squash venues will handle the pandemic.

Our suggestion is using the global manifesto but bring in wardens to manage the safety of facility just like any other indoor Squash court.

Getting members to play Squash in the new normal

All the respective Squash bodies will need to work together with one another – alternatively countries in proximity of each other can help one another in sharing safety expertise.

For instance, the Italian Squash Federation should have looked how Switzerland produced their guidelines for reducing the pandemic risks of Squash, instead of consulting a think tank of researchers, who have no experience of the sport.

To sum up, by having a global Squash manifesto on managing the COVID-19 issues with less risk, thus allowing the club to open and allow their members to reap the health benefits of the sport to ward off any symptoms of the pandemic in a safe playing environment.