Squash is set to be included in the 13th edition of the African Games, held in Ghana in 2023, following a decision by the organising committee.
The African Games are a continental multi-sport event held every four years, organised by the African Union, the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa and the Association of African Sports Confederations.
Squash has been absent from the Games since the 2003 edition in Abuja, Nigeria, where Egypt completed a clean sweep of golds in the men’s and women’s singles and team events.
The organisers’ decision to include squash comes as a reversal of their previous position, with squash initially rejected due to logistical concerns.
In October this year, Lucky Mlilo, Squash Federation of Africa President, visited Ghana to campaign for squash’s inclusion in the Games. While in Accra, he and Ghana Squash Federation President Richmond Quarcoo spoke with a number of stakeholders about the planned construction of two modern squash courts, the completion of which by the end of 2022 is a condition of squash’s inclusion.
Reacting to the announcement, Mlilo said: “This is a momentous occasion for squash fans in Ghana, Africa and around the world. The news of squash’s inclusion comes as great vindication for the tireless work we have been doing to promote the game in Africa. My thanks to the organising committee for their support and timely decision, and to my colleagues, Richmond Quarcoo, the SFA board members and Zena and William of the WSF for all their assistance, advice and efforts.
“I am thrilled and honoured to have played a role in making squash more accessible. After so many years of squash being excluded from the Games, I am delighted that sports fans across Africa will have the opportunity to engage with our incredible game in 2023. I have total faith in the Ghana Squash Federation, who so impressed me during my visit, to help deliver a fantastic event and I am sure these games will leave a lasting and positive legacy for years to come.”
Meanwhile, WSF President Zena Wooldridge said: “My congratulations and thanks to Lucky, Richmond and their colleagues for their impressive work in achieving the inclusion of squash in the 2023 African Games in Ghana. This is an incredibly important milestone for the sport generally but for the future development of squash in Africa in particular.
“The new squash venue constructed to host the Games will no doubt serve future generations well for years to come and I am confident that squash in Africa will take a huge step forward in the next few years with initiatives such as this in Ghana under the leadership of Lucky and Richmond.”