Five years ago Odense Squash Club had no women playing squash on a regular basis. Now, the number of female members at the club is constantly rising and this year they have more than 40 ladies regularly playing in their weekly women’s session.
We wanted to share this with you during Women’s Squash Week to celebrate programs like this and examples of success in different parts of the world.
Every Wednesday more than 25 female players aged 18-55 gather for practice with a number of coaches. The club now has three women’s teams in the Danish National Squash League and compete regularly with other local clubs as well.
Reaching the stage of introducing competition to their women’s sessions is a huge step and achieved in a very short space of time. So how is it that Odense Squash Club have managed to so quickly and successfully introduce so many women to squash? We spoke with their lead coach Thomas Søgaard about how it all evolved:
“The answer is active unity; friendships across age and work, brilliant practice with highly-competent coaches, lots of movement, and squash! With planned training and drop-ins only for women, coaches who care, joint events, and having fun while being active has provided the right setting – a social community across ages! The keywords for a thriving women’s team is active, unity, and volunteers work.”
We wanted to find out what it was about squash and the community that Odense Squash Club has created that kept the women so engaged and enjoying every session:
Why do you enjoy playing squash?
Susan, 45, startet playing squash in 1998: “It is a technically and physically demanding sport with a high pace. I also enjoy the competitive part of the game!
Sanne, 29: Just because it is fun and it is a good exercise form! We also have some great coaches that really know how to guide and motivate us!
Anne-Lene 26: I leave every practice exhausted and with a smile on! We have a community, hence it is not just training and exercise, it is also the talks and the laughs we have together.
What makes playing squash different to other sports?
Susan 45: It is challenging on so many levels. You keep on improving yourself even if you are a 40+ generation
Tanja, 30: It is the high pace, and that you play alone, but still a part of a community. It is quite easy to begin playing squash – even as an adult.
Mette, 36: In squash, compared to other sports, you get the team spirit, while still being a solo sport in the sense that it is all on you if you win or lose. You can commit to the level that fits you.
What is the best part of coming along to these sessions?
Susan, 45: It is serious training where the club prioritize excellent coaches who challenge and motivate us. There is of course also the social part that plays a role – both before, in-between, and after practice.
Mette, 36: In OSC the best part about training is the awesome team of women, and the great coaches who know your level and make sure the training matches these different levels.
Julie, 33: We always have so much fun together!
Fleur, 28: Talented and nice coaches and the team spirit – and of course becoming better at the game!
It’s clubs like Odense that show us how great squash can be for women and girls. Female membership at traditional squash clubs can often be a challenge. But this is an excellent example of how creating a community, a sense of belonging and a space for women to play and socialise can be successful. Not to mention a boost to our great sport and only beneficial for the success of all the squash clubs out there.