Members from Lichfield Squash Club will once again be at the heart of plans to promote the sport of squash across the globe on World Squash Day, taking place this Saturday 10th October.
World Squash Day is an annual festival of squash, when clubs and players from across the globe come together to organise events to promote the benefits of the sport and increase participation. This year, the organisers have teamed up with a global charity, UNICEF UK, in order to use the opportunity to raise much needed funds to assist the charity’s work to protect vulnerable children across the world. Never has this work been so important, as recent events such as the Syrian migrant crisis have demonstrated.
In a new initiative, Lichfield Squash Club Chairman James Roberts has organised an official World Squash Day Auction of collectible squash clothing and memorabilia signed by a host of top PSA World Tour stars, including the current men’s world number one, Mohammed El Shorbagy from Egypt and former women’s World No. 1 Nicol David from Malaysia, who up until August 2015 had held this position for over 9 consecutive years.
Other top pros who have signed lots include British Number 1 and World Number 2 Nick Matthew, World Number 3 from France Gregory Gaultier, British National Champion Sarah-Jane Perry and former World Champion and British Open Champion Laura Massaro, amongst others.
James had collected some of the items being auctioned personally through following the PSA World Tour and Premier Squash League over a number of years and meeting a variety of professional players as a result. However, he decided to sacrifice them ‘for the greater good’ whilst the opportunity of World Squash Day has presented itself to raise money for such a worthy cause.
A number of lots were also donated specifically for the Auction by the players themselves, as well as the PSA World Tour organisers. IN addition, some other squash fans have come forward to donate lots of their own.
Some of the star lots include the signed match ball from the 2008 Women’s British Open Final, a signed shirt worn by Nick Matthew in recent PSA World Tour events and unique TV camera glass covers signed by Mohammed El Shorbagy, Gregory Gaultier and Nicol David.
The Auction is being run on eBay, with 100% of proceeds then being donated to UNICEF UK. Bidding started on Friday 2nd October and will run to the evening of Monday 12th October, with lot end times varying between 20:00 and 20:30 BST.
All lots can be viewed by going to www.ebay.co.uk and searching for ‘World Squash Day’.
As it is just a few days before the day itself, the Club has also decided to use its monthly Club Night this Tuesday 6th October as an opportunity to have a go at the ‘Off The Wall Squash Challenge’.
Off The Wall Squash is a squash coaching and events management company based in Essex which has laid down the challenge to squash players across the world to hit as many consecutive volleys into a corner of the court as possible in just 1 minute, and then donate to Unicef. As well as the usual informal social squash, players will be able to have a go at the Challenge. There will be prizes for the best performances and all Club Night fees will be donated to UNICEF UK.
The Club Night will take place at King Edward VI Leisure Centre from 7.20pm to 9.20pm
As for World Squash Day itself, following last year’s ‘7 Clubs Challenge’ when 2 Lichfield members completed 7 consecutive squash matches at 7 different clubs in just 7 hours, the 7 clubs involved have come together to organise a World Squash Day knock out tournament.
This is open to any players from the clubs who all compete in the Central Team Squash League which operates across Staffordshire, Birmingham and the Black Country. 18 players have entered from across the different clubs, with 4 from Lichfield.
The tournament will take place at Burton Manor Sports Association in Stafford, starting at 10.00am and running until around 6.00pm. Entry is £5 per player with all proceeds going to UNICEF UK.
There are some great prizes up for grabs, with the winner to receive a Blade Squash GB Series racket and the runner up a custom designed tournament shirt produced by Four Oaks based sports apparel supplier iPROSPORTS.
The tournament format is a straight 16 player knock out, but with handicaps applied according to the playing level of each player in order to ‘level the playing field’ and give everyone a chance of winning. There will be a small qualifying round for the main draw, with a simple random draw used to determine who has to go through qualifying and then who plays who in each subsequent round.
Spectators are welcome to attend to lend their support or to just watch the squash on display – there promises to be some great matches and it will be interesting to see who emerges victorious. The bar will be open and food available.
Club Chairman James Roberts commented ‘Once again, we are proud to see our club so involved in World Squash Day to play our part in demonstrating what a great, enjoyable and healthy sport squash is and promoting this message across the World. It is great as well this year to work with our fellow clubs in the Central Squash League to run a joint event.
It was immensely disappointing to see squash once again snubbed by the Olympics, but the sport is determined to dust itself off, knuckle down and continue along its path of continuous improvement to build its appeal, and World Squash Day is an important part of that process. We are hoping that the auction will raise a large sum of money for such a great cause as UNICEF UK. We also hope to do the same via the tournament, whilst having a great time playing and promoting the game’.
Donations to UNICEF can be made in person on the day at the Tournament, or online at the official World Squash Day JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/WorldSquashDay