#YouBelong In Sports Media: Interview with Laura Massaro and Vanessa Atkinson
Women’s Squash Week (18-24th September) is an international campaign that aims to celebrate and raise the profile of female squash.
PSA Foundation are proud to champion this key awareness week, and a core part of our work is empowering women and girls to participate in squash.
This years theme is #YouBelong: highlighting how women and girls belong in all aspects of the game.
We speak with Laura Massaro and Vanessa Atkinson: legends of the sport who are now part of the faces of SQUASHTV: about how they got involved with SQUASHTV post career and how other women can do the same.
[Vanessa] “I actually started emceeing when I retired and then the World Championships, I think it might have been 2011, I was in Holland they came up with the idea let’s use Vanessa, because I obviously played for Holland for so many years and see if we can get her doing some presenting”
“When I was asked, I kind of said yes because I felt like I should. But I was absolutely terrified. I’ve never done anything like that before. I’d never held a mic, I’ve never stood in front of people in that way before.”
“So I just remember that lead up to that, I was like, How do I get out of this? Like, I just can’t I couldn’t imagine how I was going to do it, anyway, I did it and it was, it was okay.”
“was, as you know, as usual, it wasn’t it wasn’t as bad as you imagine it’s going to be. Then I got asked to do a few more and that kind of then rolled into doing the odd bit of commentary.”
“There weren’t any female commentators at that point really and now there’s a whole bunch of us, as there should be.”
[Laura] “The first little taster that I had was literally the event I retired the Manchester Open in 2019 they said can you come back and do a little bit to camera.”
“It was a little bit of an insight of someone’s kind of still on the tour, but about to step away. That insight into the game that you’re still in the game, but also looking to step away.”
“I’m a little bit more comfortable in front of camera, maybe because of the way that my career went and the interviews and the TV stuff and everything that you do.”
“After Manchester it was, obviously there was a lot of stuff with COVID, and then I got pregnant had my little boy. It was just the case of would you like to come and do something at the British Open? And I was really excited to get back in the game.”
“I think you need to have women in all walks of life in every role because you need girls, young women, young kids need to see themselves represented, that that’s something that they could possibly aspire to.”
“I think it gives a nice contrast when you have both genders kind of commentating together. I think it’s absolutely vital to have women in those roles and all in on all sides of the sport.”
“I actually say to the juniors when you’re watching squash, which I didn’t have when I was a junior, we didn’t have access to anything: pretend you’re commentating because it forces you to watch the game in a in a different way and it can be it’s a hugely important tool for the players to learn how to develop as players.”
“What’s important as a young female is to try to recognize your strengths, like generally look at what you’re strong at, are you maybe a little bit more fitted for an emceeing role or a role that’s a little bit behind the scenes, like all of the crew that we have here that are doing all this stuff that sends the coverage out, they’re all male.”
“So, you know, although, yes, you’re going to see us in front of camera. It’s sort of like, what do you really want to be and what do you really want to do and what you enjoy doing?
“Try and push and gravitate towards what you enjoy because what you enjoy, you generally are good at and then ask questions, seek people out that do what you enjoy: where there’s a chance to shadow and maybe follow what someone does. And then before you know it you maybe get a little go at it.”
“No matter how much you think you know, you can always improve and you can always learn.”