Community Spotlight: the Allam British Open

Since 2016, community programmes at the Allam British Open have ensured that the world’s oldest squash tournament makes as much of an impact off the court as on it, thanks to partnerships with the PSA Foundation, Rackets Cubed and local schools.

The PSA Foundation is the charitable arm of the Professional Squash Association and serves as a bridge between the World Tour and communities around the world.

Rackets Cubed, meanwhile, is a UK charity that delivers integrated sport, education and nutrition programmes to improve the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged young children and raise their aspirations.

One of the most important programmes run at the British Open has been welcoming children from underprivileged backgrounds to the Allam Sports Centre to learn about the game from squash’s biggest stars.

Although COVID-19 restrictions prevented schools coming on-site for last year’s tournament, it is with delight that we can announce that schools will be welcomed back to the Allam Sport Centre this week.

Commenting on the return of schools, the Head of the PSA Foundation, Adriana Olaya, says: “Everyone is so excited to be able to welcome schools back to the Allam Sport Centre. While the pandemic never stopped our work, to be able to provide these sorts of opportunities at one of squash’s most iconic tournaments makes this year’s British Open that bit more special.”

On Wednesday March 30, approximately 60 children from Chiltern Primary School will visit the sports centre as part of the British Open Rackets Cubed Legacy Programme.

As with all schools on Rackets Cubed programmes, Chiltern Primary School is located in an area with a high Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI).

On their visit, they will watch some of the top professionals play, and have a question and answer session with one of the PSA pros. This comes in addition to their weekly sessions at the University of Hull, where they been learning about science, technology, engineering and maths [STEM], playing squash and eating a nutritious meal.

Julia Strickland, Head of School at St. James’ C.E. Academy, experienced the programme first hand when her school had its first British Open Rackets Cubed session in 2019. Speaking afterwards about what other schools can expect, she said: “Rackets Cubed gives us the ability to broaden children’s horizons. We’re looking to raise children’s aspirations and introduce them to something completely new and different.

“Squash is a sport that we don’t have access to in schools; it’s not something we usually play and it’s not part of the curriculum. Coming to the University will give them access to professional facilities in order to really give them the opportunity to try something new and also use the STEM facilities so the children get an all-round enrichment activity.”

Besides the STEM, squash and nutrition activities planned, there will be a number of other sessions run throughout the week to ensure the Allam British Open leaves a legacy for Hull and the wider world.

As always, the Rebound collection will be available inside the Allam Sport Centre throughout the week. Rebound is a PSA Foundation initiative to collect usable squash gear and send the donations to communities all around the world and is an environmentally friendly way to help children play the world’s healthiest sport. So far, the PSA Foundation has sent donations to underserved communities in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Israel, Jordan and South Africa.

In addition, a fluorescent court and four mini pop-up courts will be around the venue this week for children to use for free, while before play starts each day, a video compilation celebrating 10 years of the British Open in Hull and highlighting the impact of the championship’s legacy programme will be shown.

Speaking on the long-term legacy of the Allam British Open, Olaya says: “One of the main objectives of the PSA Foundation is to ensure events leave legacy programmes wherever the professional tour visits. At the British Open we see a magnificent example of so many groups working together, with the University of Hull, Rackets Cubed, the PSA, and local schools all coming together for the benefit of the community.

“The legacy programmes attached to the British Open have made such a difference. It is truly amazing to see how lives have been improved by squash. Seeing children enjoying discovering squash, while also improving their education and learning about the benefits of healthy living – all with a smile on their faces – is so rewarding. We are all so grateful to Dr. Allam and the Allam British Open for facilitating these programmes over the years. So many lives have been improved because of the British Open.”