The concept of building outdoors squash courts, putting them in plain view of the wider public and improving the sport’s accessibility is something that has been talked about a lot recently. With the current varying global restrictions for organised sport due to COVID-19, moving squash outdoors has become a hot topic.
However, El Salvador based community squash programme Squash Para Todos, along with global non-profit Glasswing International & Latin America’s Sports Reimagined, were ahead of the trend and were already making plans for their new outdoors squash complex with construction under way for their four courts in El Salvador.
Collectively these organisations seek to address the root causes and consequences of violence and poverty through education and health programmes that empower youth and communities, with Squash Para Todos spearheading these efforts for squash.
With these objectives in mind, the new community court complex will be used collaboratively with Squash Para Todos and the local community to strengthen the lives of local underserved children through squash and education.
Squash Para Todos also intend for the new complex to serve as a platform for researching and developing new ways to upgrade the court materials in an affordable way. This is important towards competing with the affordability of other sports facilities.
We asked Squash Para Todos Founder & Executive Director Carlos Schonenberg, how do you see the future for outdoor squash?
“To begin with, I believe it is very important to understand that it is not only about building random outdoor courts. Squash isn’t popular, yet, to have random unattended courts sitting down on community parks or outdoor sports facilities. Also as important, this concept is not for the existing players that will want their private club court replicated outdoors; this will make them as expensive and participation levels will stay the same.
I also believe that the opportunity to play in a glass back, wood floor, world class courts, should be earned That is why, for us, these new outdoor courts are for those who don’t even know Squash exists. A complete new population. A step backwards. It is from these centres that we will later recruit and award our program scholarships to eventually train on the regular WSF sanctioned courts. To sustain the programme general costs, we will also provide a low cost open public paid service where you will learn to play the game, as a game, as a physical activity, no competition attached.
We need Social and Competitive Squash to work hand in hand. Unfortunately, with the amount of courts available world wide, there is no space for both. With this concept, competition can continue to do what they are doing great and we can at the same time grow the social base of players and enthusiasts; those who will fill the current empty seats seen constantly during the major squash events worldwide.
Our campaign has so far supporters from France, Tahiti, USA, Colombia, El Salvador and our concept has already inspired and mobilized programmes in other countries to follow the outdoor idea. Programs in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Zimbabwe and Spain are also intrigued with the possibility. Along with other outdoor courts like the ones in New York by Public Squash and Maspeth Welding Arts, I am certain the outdoors will be seeing squash emerge in the upcoming years.
Co-Founder of Glasswing International, Celina de Sola, MSW, MPH
“I support Squash para Todos because I believe that it uses sport and play to prepare kids for life, infusing critical social and emotional skills into sports education.”
Gambeta CEO (Owner of the Sports Complex) Francisco Yepez
“Squash Para Todos is an amazing project dedicated to kids that need to do all kinds of sports, in order to avoid getting into illegal activities. Supporting an emerging sport as outdoor squash is also a great incentive.”
Alejandro Cristiani, formerly Princeton ’93, El Salvador national team player and Squash Para Todos Supporter:
“The court is essential in providing a setting where underprivileged kids can open up to new things, learn about themselves and received the time and attention they so desperately need. Taking the sport outdoors, and specifically the way Squash Para Todos has designed the court, allows the program and the sport to have a much greater impact and reach.”
PSA Foundation Manager Adriana Olaya on Squash Para Todos and their outdoor courts:
“Their program is really amazing, they have top level juniors now from really tough backgrounds, but more than that, they are very progressive and creative. This new project can be very inspiring not only for social development programs but even for clubs who have been trying to figure out how to bring Squash outdoors… Especially now! Hopefully with more visibility, more clubs or federations will be inspired.”
Recreational squash is notorious for being behind closed doors, hidden away in private sports clubs or tucked away somewhere at your local leisure centre. Extra efforts have always been required to introduce squash to a member of the public, who otherwise wouldn’t likely come across the facilities or opportunity to try the sport. What if, like football, tennis or basketball, squash courts were a feature to your local park? Squash certainly boasts equal health benefits. How many more would decide then to have a go and find themselves playing a new sport for life? We are excited to see the squash complex in El Salvador completed and hopefully snowball into similar projects worldwide.
Squash Para Todos partnered with the PSA Foundation back in September 2019. Our support has included donated squash gear through our Rebound initiative, provision of coaching resources through support from our partners Squash Skills, access to the pro tour through the support of SquashTV & the opportunity to compete on the Pro Tour for a talented junior from underserved backgrounds. Squash Para Todos is one of 9 similar programmes that we work with
Squash Para Todos have so far raised £8,745 towards creating further outdoor squash court creations to help improve quality of life for underserved children. Check out what other plans they have and donate below!