Today marks the first day of Women’s Squash Week, an annual international campaign held 19-26 September to celebrate, raise the profile of, and increase participation levels in women’s squash.
While gender equity in squash is strived for all year round, Women’s Squash Week is an opportunity to make a coordinated effort and highlight the excellent work being done by federations, clubs and volunteers in pursuit of this goal.
What is Women’s Squash Week?
Women’s Squash Week began as ‘Women’s Squash Night’ in New York in 2008, as a way to encourage growth in women’s squash. The event was a resounding success. More cities followed suit soon after and, in 2012, the first US-wide Women’s Squash Week was held.
Since then, Women’s Squash Week has grown to be an international campaign, with women and girls from America to Zambia encouraged to take to the court in a safe and welcoming environment.
Speaking on the value of Women’s Squash Week, England’s World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry said: “It’s heartwarming to see all the amazing work being done for Women’s Squash Week. The last 18 months have been tough for sports and these programmes are vital to welcoming returning and new players. Squash is a great way to have fun, get healthy and socialise and I’m so pleased this is being recognised.”
During the week and year-round support
A diverse array of federations and individual clubs do excellent work, both for Women’s Squash Week and throughout the year, including:
England: following England Squash’s Return to Play survey, which revealed that women are less likely to have returned to squash after COVID-19 restrictions were eased, this year’s campaign, supported by Dunlop, aims to re-engage female players in squash activities following the challenges of lockdowns and restrictions.
Zambia: the Simply Squash Academy leads the way year round in Zambia, providing competitive and social squash experiences for girls and women. Simply Squash Academy’s work has so far been extremely successful: 60 percent of their members are women and girls, while 75 percent of their coaches are women.
Scotland: the famous H//T programme combines high-intensity interval training with squash for women and girls, and will begin again Monday 20th September.
Canada: support is provided year round by programmes such as the Women in Squash Encouragement Fund, all-female courses, and mentoring programmes, while Women’s Squash Week activities include exhibitions, mini-games, social events and introductory courses.
The USA: squash clubs across the country are hosting events to welcome new and returning players. These include: “Back to Squash,” an open play social event to inspire women back on court, play squash with old friends and introduce the sport to new players; in Illinois, women’s World No.41 Haley Mendez will be hosting a free squash session for new women players; and StreetSquash will be offering free beginner teaching points as well as games and match play to female identifying players of all levels.