What We Are Doing in Response to COVID-19

Over the past year, the PSA Foundation has been a support pillar for players and community programmes to ensure that they are able to come back strongly when squash returns to normality.

The different initiatives supporting players include the We Are One fund, created to provide financial support to players facing hardship due to lack of income, a robust mental health support scheme including workshops and free counselling, along with a variety of online educational workshops in different areas and fitness support through our partnership with SquashSkills.

“It’s been great to have the PSA Foundation support us players throughout lockdown with so many online courses to sign up to,” said Scotland’s World No.22 Greg Lobban.

In addition to this, we have also strived to support our partner community programmes all over the world. We have achieved this through different workshops, online activities with their students and through a network of shared resources that has allowed them to share good practices to stay afloat during these challenging times. We have also prepared a grant scheme that will help these programmes get back on court when restrictions are lifted.

Take a look below to see the ways in which we have been helping support players & community squash programmes:

Player Well-being

The ‘We Are One’ fund is a player-driven initiative which aims to bring the global squash community together to provide relief to the players that need urgent financial support following the COVID-19 pandemic and suspension of the PSA Tour.

Inspired by the generosity of our squash community, the PSA Foundation and the PSA created the “We are One” fund, providing relief to those players whose basic well-being and possibility of returning to the tour are directly threatened.

Over $130,000 has now been raised and distributed to players around the world.

The players awarded the grant have been relieved and overjoyed by the opportunity to secure their health and well-being, allowing them to continue the pursuit of their squash career. Some of their comments follow below:

“These funds have helped me to come back home. Most importantly, it has given me hope to continue training.” World No. 188 Miled Zarazua from Mexico.

“It really helped me trying to stay positive and motivated to train during these past months. It’s really hard to keep the head up when we struggle financially, so all the help we can get is welcomed at the moment.” World No. 73 Rui Soares from Portugal.

PSA Tournament Support

In order to boost the lower end of the PSA Tour, PSA have introduced two schemes to promote the hosting of events.

The reduced prize money scheme allows Satellite and Challenger Tour tournament organisers to hold domestic and regional events with a 50% reduction in prize money compared to the normal structure, whilst retaining the same number of PSA World Ranking points. As a result of this approach, 101 events (56 men and 45 women) hosted by 25 countries were sanctioned on the PSA Tour in the first quarter of 2021.

The PSA grant scheme allows promoters to apply for up to $2,500 per division for international Challenger Tour 30 events and below which can be used towards operational costs or prize money. To date we’ve awarded over 15 grants totalling $55,00 to events from nine countries which suggests a promising outlook for the international return of the PSA Challenger Tour later in the year.

PSA Tour Player Support

To safeguard players’ rankings and facilitate as many opportunities as possible for them to play without damaging their ranking during the pandemic, PSA have introduced a new ranking scheme which no longer used the old system of a divisor.

In addition, the expiry of rankings points has been extended ensuring players retain any points earned and on their ranking prior to the start of the pandemic.

Finally, PSA have provided reduced membership rates to all members to account for the financial hardship faced and lack of playing opportunity throughout the past year.

PSA continue to monitor and review all schemes to ensure ALL players are safeguarded and can continue their squash career as soon as is safely possible. We’d like to thank promoters and players for their ongoing support and commitment to PSA.

Sporting Chance

At the end of March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PSA Foundation fast-tracked a strong relationship with the UK’s largest provider of mental health services working exclusively with professional and elite sports participants.

We knew one of the biggest priorities for the athletes of the PSA Tour during these difficult times would be maintaining strong mental health and wellbeing.

The long-term purpose of this relationship is to fill the gap of mental health support within the challenging landscape of professional squash. A registered charity themselves, Sporting Chance have provide services for 24/7 counselling & educational support to create a readiness in squash to talk about mental health. Counselling sessions are funded by the PSA Foundation through the funds that we raise. Across all of the partner sports who work with Sporting Chance, World No. 36 Lucas Serme of France & World No. 134 Mary Fung-A-Fat of Guyana also became the first Sporting Chance Ambassadors. It is their role to increase awareness of mental health through the charity’s services and engagement with fellow athletes and organisations. Read more on this here.

Let’s Talk Series

The Let’s Talk series are webinar sessions with the players of the PSA Tour and various industry professionals. They are in place to upskill the players in matters that both make their squash careers more sustainable and also prepare them for life after squash. 

Workshops have been on topics such as:

  • InSport Education on;
    A career in the Sports Business industry
  • Sporting Chance on;
    Mental and Emotional Health in Sports
  • PSA Lead Physiotherapist Derek Ryan on;
    Training during lock-down and preparing for post quarantine
  • Dana Sinclair on;
    Performance Psychology and Managing Emotions Under Stress
  • Anna Guelzim on;
    Marketing Your Brand & Growing Sponsorship’s In COVID19
  • Nick Matthew on;
    Motivation, training and anxiety during lock-down
  • & many more!

”The emails and guest sessions are really useful with lots of relevant info and links,” said one player who had taken part in the Zoom calls.

“I particularly enjoyed Alex and Nick’s talk [Sporting Chance] and for me I thought is was one of the best one’s yet.”

Motivation Monday

Initially every Monday, now the first Monday of the month, we reach out to all players on the PSA Tour to offer an opportunity for players to voice difficulties they are facing and also to push opportunities to support their current circumstances.  

Other content has included online courses, mental health support and ideas from other players facing similar challenges.  

“The Motivation Monday emails are great. So many free courses and opportunities relevant to athletes that we don’t normally have time to think about.

“I completed the nutrition course and the marketing and sponsorship workshop actually landed me a sponsorship in product that I wasn’t aware I could land being an ambassador.

“For us as athletes, keeping our minds busy when we can’t play squash is crucial. These emails and the online talks have helped us find a purpose during lockdown and has given us motivation to get back on tour with a new perspective on our careers.” 

Squash Skills

The lockdown also presented an opportunity to develop our partnership with SquashSkills, who have launched a free and fully tailored webpage for PSA Tour players to access appropriate home workouts. Additionally, they have given players of the PSA Tour 3 months free access to all their routines, workouts and sessions.

This support has been significant for the players who have been limited to the confinements of their own homes and separated from their usual coaches and support teams.

Community Engagement

Community Programmes We Support

We’ve united all our partner community squash programmes from across the globe into a support network and ideas hub. This has allowed each programme to share ideas and initiatives with each other to support the survival of their programmes and support the families in need locally through vital food drives.

We used this platform to distribute activities and resources to the juniors of the programmes while stuck indoors. During the last year we also launched a weekly spotlight campaign that shined a light on the fantastic work these programmes do.

Players have been getting involved too. In celebration of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, World No.4 Paul Coll of New Zealand & World No.13 Nele Gilis of Belgium hosted a live workout with the juniors of the community programmes we support. Translated into Arabic, Spanish, English and Portuguese for all the children taking part, for the first time they were able to meet pro squash players and likeminded children from other initiatives across the globe. Check it out here.

Similarly we also hosted a live webinar with World No. 9 Miguel Rodriguez and the juniors of Squash Urbano and Squash Para Todos. Check this out here.

PSA Foundation in Their Local Community

Through the PSA Foundation’s partnership with Rackets Cubed, a community based squash programme had been created in Leeds (UK) between Chapel Allerton Squash Club and Hovingham Primary School. During the lockdown, the staff of the PSA Foundation have been taking part in delivering the donations of a food drive, created to ensure the children from this undeserved community has access to food during these difficult times.

We are very grateful to all our supporters and partners who have come together to support each other during these challenging times. It is great to reflect on what we can achieve when we combine our efforts.