Congratulations to Squash and Racquetball Victoria’s Paul Vear, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the 2021 Queens Birthday Honours List.
Paul’s commitment to both squash and Squash 57 over 50 years has been previously recognised by the sport with his Squash and Squash 57 Victoria Legend and Hall of Fame status, while he was recognised as 2005 ‘Administrator of the Year’ by Squash Australia.
Five-time World Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald AM, the current President of Squash and Racquetball Victoria, indicated that she and everyone involved in their sport were very happy that Paul’s contribution to squash and racquetball had been recognised in this manner. She added that this Queens Birthday Honours award was long overdue.
His involvement in squash is extensive. He has been a State Grade player, squash centre owner, delegate to Squash Australia, Board Member and long-term Executive Director of the state organisation, as well as Event Director/Manager of many squash tournaments including World Men’s events, Australian Opens, National Leagues and International Womens Events to name a few.
As the Executive Director of what was the Victorian Squash Federation, he was always looking for ideas to promote squash. To this end, Paul and his team initiated the first ever squash events to be held in a public setting.
He commenced promoting and delivering squash to the public with a transportable four wall court at what was the Melbourne Entertainment Centre in 1989, then subsequently for the Australian Open at the King Club in 1990/91 and the World Congress Centre in 1992, followed by four years at Daimaru, Melbourne Central shopping complex, under the shot tower.
He was also heavily involved in the State Government selecting the 10 courts for MSAC, which comprised three banks of three courts with movable walls, plus a four wall glass court as its feature court. This made it the first international squash facility built in Australia.
However, he will forever be remembered for being the catalyst in bringing the world’s squash community to Melbourne in 2001. The bid to host the Melbourne International Squash Festival in 2001 was co-presented by Paul to the World Squash Federation and following that successful bid, he was heavily involved in presenting what became the largest ever international squash event. No other city has undertaken such a squash event before or since.
Fitz-Gerald said: “Who else but Paul Vear would dream up and deliver such a squash festival that was held over 28 consecutive days and had 49 countries represented? That Festival included the World Women’s Open, World Mens Teams, World Masters Championships, the World PSA Men’s Challenge and 16 other squash-related conferences and seminars.”
The post-Festival report indicated that 49,000 room nights and an $8.3 million economic impact were generated.
He was also heavily involved in the delivery of the World Deaf Squash Championships held in Melbourne in 2005.
He was the Squash Assistant Competition Manager during the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and was instrumental in the introduction of Squash 57 to Australia in 1977. As General Manager of Australian Racquetball, he continues to promote and administer the sport of Squash 57 and has long argued that it complements squash as a fast, family-friendly indoor sport. He goes to all of the tournaments, compiles rankings points and submits articles to media outlets where possible.
Paul has coordinated an extensive review of the Australian Squash 57 rules and is the Secretary of the Victorian Racquetball Committee established by Squash & Racquetball Victoria, and recently invited to sit on the World Squash Federation Commission.
Sarah Fitz-Gerald has said that Paul Vear is the glue that holds together the Squash 57 community. His work has extended to several other States culminating in the National Racquetball Grand Prix Circuit and a National Racquetball Committee.
Having retired as Executive Director of the Victorian Squash Federation a decade or so ago, he has stayed involved and is currently the interim General Manager of Squash and Racquetball Victoria until a new General Manager is appointed.