Waikato is a strong squash district which has produced large numbers of national and international representative players, coaches, administrators and referees over the years.
This trend continues strongly today, with many from Waikato recognised on the world circuit for their excellence in squash.
It started back in 1936 when the original squash court was built in Barton St for up to 40 professional gentlemen to join, at just two pounds a year. Now in 2017 we have more than 2300 men, women, girls and boys as club members and more than 5600 people who have participated casually in various social club programmes (450 more than last year).
However, this data from Squash NZ doesn’t capture all those who link in to clubs on an ad hoc basis or who take advantage of the pay to play opportunities that more clubs are starting to offer. With statistics showing squash has been in decline, Waikato is seeing a turn around, with growth on growth over the past two years. Squash in Waikato is definitely on the rise.
Society has altered, due to a changing landscape. For many, trying to find time to exercise is a struggle. Let’s face it, most of us are crazy busy, struggling to keep up with the everyday hustle and bustle of work and family life. We want to have time to mix and mingle with friends, we’re told we need to exercise for 30 minutes a day for physical and mental wellbeing, and wouldn’t it be a luxury to get some quality time for ourselves doing something we enjoy.
Squash provides the answer. Many are opting to give squash a go or dusting off their old racquets and reconnecting with the sport. It fits in well with a busy life, especially since you can play when you want, with who you want and there are a number of ways to link in with the sport.
Squash allows people to achieve many things at once; to exercise, get fit, help with health, socialise and have fun, all within a short space of 45 minutes. And the fact each club has showers and refreshments means it’s easy to get on with the day after your game. Rain or shine, squash can be played with family, friends or others new to the sport, whether you’re five years old or 80+ and is suited to any level. Trevor Coulter from Hamilton who started playing at the age of 40, was the World Masters 80+ Champion back in 2015!
In Waikato, we have been providing many new opportunities for students, teachers and their families, thanks to Kiwi Sport Funding. Over the past two years more than 2200 students have been part of an eight-week squash programme at a school or club, with many clubs and schools now owning their own squash kits. Hundreds of teachers and club coaches have been upskilled to deliver squash programmes with a further 1600 children booked in this year. The programme is proving a hit as Kiwi Squash provides something new. The fundamental skills learnt through this world class programme are transferable to all other sports. Most programmes that commenced in schools back in 2014, when Kiwi Squash was launched, still continue independently today, with students, teachers and parents who are keen, being offered ways to link into clubs.
It’s amazing how many teachers and parents either used to play squash or had family members who used to play. Squash was a very popular sport in its peak, in the 80s. By linking in with schools, interest is growing again and the future of squash in Waikato is looking bright.