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.
To highlight #YouBelong on court: we visited Pontefract Squash Club and their womens sessions- that run multiple times a week.
Organised by Jayne Robinson, a long-standing coach at the club, these sessions bring together women and girls of all ages and abilities to play squash in a fun, safe and inclusive environment.
We spoke with Jayne and the women who are part of the session about how the session came about, the importance of spaces for women to play squash, and how other clubs can start their own sessions.
“What started as a small group of two or three people became one big group on a one day a week, and he’s actually going over the time to four female only sessions”
“Tonight we’ve got about 24 women come in. So the fact that it’s grown so exponentially just shows you how much people enjoy bringing along their friends.”
Karen, a participant in the sessions spoke about how she got involved:
“It started with my granddaughter, Ellen. She came with the schools, and of course, being a grandparent, you moved them from one place to another.
“I used to bring her to all the trainings, and I thought I could have a go at this. So that’s how I started. My only regret is that I didn’t start earlier!”
Jayne then speaks about how important female role models are for women and girls to get into squash.
“One of the things I didn’t have was a female role model, so my coaches as a junior were all male coaches. There were women players around, but not that many.”
“When I was moving into adulthood. It was really good for me to be able to kind of meet women players around the country as I was moving around to university.
“But also I just felt I could be that role model to the people to help with the people of the women, young girls, to start to play a game squash that they may never have thought about playing before.”
Finally, Jayne highlights why these sessions are women only and how they have been so successful:
“The reason we do female over the sessions is because women do play differently to men quite often. Initially, they don’t hit the ball as hard, and I think some women would feel a little bit overawed going on with men who hit the ball very hard.
“They have the opportunity to develop their own skills at their own pace and level with the people of similar standards or better than them, and just enjoy a friendship.”
“I hope people think it’s fun. I hope people feel they’re developing their skills as well. It’s relaxed. There’s no pressure on anybody to be anything.”
“It’s a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. I’d like to think that that’s what we’ve created at Pontefract and that’s why the female sessions are successful.”