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Squash For Development: Making a positive impact on communities around the world

This article is adapted from one first published by Squash Facilities Network. Read the full article here.

Squash and squash57 have a growing and deserved reputation as sports that achieve positive social change and helps address inequalities in communities.

Increasingly, stakeholders across the sports, from Continental and National Federations to community groups and organised volunteers, have used squash as a vehicle to improve people’s lives.

Across the world, squash facilities and organisations are linking up with charities, schools and community organisations to make a life-changing impact on thousands of beneficiaries.

When people from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the opportunity to go on a squash court and hit a ball, they quickly discover the benefits of fun, fitness, mental health, learning new skills and and making new friendships. When a squash programme is linked with partners who add education, employability and leadership skills, that’s when the whole package becomes extremely powerful.

Street Squash
A girls’ tournament at Street Squash in New York (an SEA member organisation)

Some of these programmes are linked together in a network called the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA) with 20 based in the USA and five elsewhere. Together, these programmes support over 2,500 young people in under-served communities at any one time.

These non-profit organisations use squash to engage disadvantaged and ethnically diverse young people and give them opportunities in education they would otherwise be denied. High percentages of SEA students graduate high school and get into college. Over 265 have gone on to play on college squash teams, 40 alumni now work on SEA member programmes and three have become professional squash players.

Calder Community Squash
Calder Community Squash
Elsewhere in the world, there are many similar initiatives which use squash to effect change in individuals and communities. Many of these are supported by the PSA Foundation, which categorises the initiatives as ‘Squash for Development Organisations’.
Theese Squash for Development Organisations include the likes of Calder Community Squash in England, which works with populations from local mosques, refugees, young people from low-income families and people with disabilities. It opens up access to squash by bringing the game to the people with portable squash gear and offering a clear pathway to their local facilities.
The Nicol David Organisation

In Malaysia, the Nicol David Organisation empowers girls and boys through sport and education. Its Little Legends programme supports mid to low income families in Kuala Lumpur with an after-school programme that provides squash training, English tutoring, life skills workshops and nutrition plans.

Squash Dreamers
Squash Dreamers

Squash Dreamers, based in Amman, Jordan, gives professional level squash training to young refugee and underprivileged girls, working on their physical and mental health, as well as supporting their academic studies to prepare them for future opportunities including scholarships.

Other Squash for Development Organisation are in Argentina, South Africa, Canada, El Salvador, the UK, Israel, India, Brazil and Colombia. You can read about the work of all the projects here.

Across the world, squash facilities and organisations are the catalyst for far-reaching projects which have an impact that goes far beyond merely introducing people to the benefits of playing squash. But squash is the vital ‘hook’ that engages the under-privileged beneficiaries, giving them transformational life opportunities that they would otherwise be denied.

This article was adapted from one first published by Squash Facilities Network. Read the full article here.

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