Sport Bay of Plenty

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SportsTalk: Squash Ticks all the Boxes

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


With so many options, how do people choose what sport they want to play?

When I was a kid back in the 80s, there were not many options for sports at school. Basically it was netball for girls, and rugby or soccer for boys. If you went to a larger school in the city a few more options opened up.

I remember moving from my tiny school in South Canterbury to the busy metropolis of Rotorua and being amazed by being able to play basketball or cricket at school!

Nowadays the options are completely endless. I am constantly surprised by the myriad of exciting things my kids are presented with at their sports-mad school. And the kids today are lapping it up. It’s not that we are playing less sport than we did in the ‘old days’, but the problem for the traditional sports is how do we compete in such a clogged market?

Squash is facing this question now more than ever. I won’t candy coat this - squash has been on the decline. In the 80s Squash enjoyed incredible success with over 50,000 registered players nationwide. Since then we have seen a steady drop in affiliated members to less than 20,000. Many clubs have ageing facilities and an out-dated model for delivery. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the Bay of Plenty is leading the way with new and updated club facilities and delivery models. These models have proven popular and seen a recent surge in growth.

The other good news is that squash is still an exciting, fun sport that has plenty going for it. In my experience the biggest advantage squash has is that it is a sport the whole family can enjoy it together. Mum, Dad and the kids can all compete in the same event. That’s pretty rare these days. It makes for a unique environment where everyone is engaged and creates a real feeling of family unity.

It’s addictive too. I have lost track of how many people have said “I wish I had found this sport twenty years ago!”. The challenge is to get people in the door, because once they are in they are hooked.

As with any sport, we need to be smarter about how we deliver squash to keep people engaged. Research shows that people want to play their sport in a comfortable environment; they want to be able to commit for short periods of time, they want to get fit and they want to have fun and be social. Squash ticks all the boxes, we just need to get better at it.

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