A small number of countries around the world play Racketball, with each only having quite small or tiny numbers of players. The major exception is England where Racketball has been growing strongly and has a structure featuring events.
It is because the squash variation is in its relative infancy that it was felt to be the right time to develop a strategy that gives the variation the best chance of evolving and becoming a genuine complement to squash in all countries.
The issues that were identified:
- Because the word ‘squash’ is not part of the name, this has seemed to necessitate England Squash and a couple of other national Federations to append ‘……… and Racketball’.
- There is international confusion with the game of Racquetball, which has a North American heartland, is played on a different size court with no tin, has a different ball and has other variations. (Anybody who has bought Racketball balls and been sent Racquetball balls, knows this issue).
- Having two names almost the same means that as the sport of Racketball grows, this will be more difficult to achieve where Racquetball is played.
- Racquetball is administered by a different International Federation, who are attempting to grow their game themselves making our task harder if we retain the name.
- Racquetball is already a feature of the Pan American Games giving us little or no chance of both Racquetball and Racketball being included.
- Of course, people playing for fun locally have no interest in the strategic decision to enable Racketball to flourish, but National Federations and the WSF has to.
- As has been announced, the branding agency – retained by England Squash – conducted extensive research, both in England and other countries too. England Squash accepted the recommendation, supported by the WSF, that the name to use for the future will be Squash57.
It may seem an unusual move to use a number rather than a name, added to squash, but the rationale is sound:
- Firstly, including the name squash in the variation ties it firmly to the squash family.
- It avoids any need for Federations and clubs needing to append ‘……. And squash’ to their names.
- The confusion with Racquetball disappears and so enables more momentum to be generated for it.
- Also, absolutely key in the longer term, it will enable both Squash and Squash57 to be promoted together in respect of events, be they local, national or international. This includes allowing us to promote Squash57 as a squash discipline, so giving us the chance to bid for it to be added into major games.
In due course as Squash57 blossoms then people will very possibly tend to talk of playing 40 or 57, based upon the centimetre diameter of the ball.
The support for the change name change of Racketball, especially from those countries that have only just begun, has been heartening. However, there have been a few completely understandable negative comments from some people who either don’t want any change or simply don’t like the new name. We hope that they will give it a chance.
While England Squash will be branding their events with the Squash57 name it is appreciated that some social players will continue with using Racketball rather than Squash57 or 57 for a while or even a long while. We hope that they realise the long term strategy put in place by England Squash and WSF to allow 57 to flourish alongside Squash all over the world.