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State of Squash: Nigeria

Squash has taken major steps towards returning in Nigeria and the Nigerian Squash Federation held a special webinar recently to ensure that all squash clubs are equipped to create a safe environment for players during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many countries around the globe, squash had been on hold in Nigeria from March, 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, but squash clubs across the nation were finally given permission to open their doors on August 7 following the decision from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to lift the ban on non-contact sports.

Of course, squash is now operating under stricter restrictions than ever before, and the webinar impressed on all stakeholders the necessary precautions and the medical and safety guidelines that would be required to ensure that squash could return in the country.

Featuring speakers such as World Squash Federation Chief Executive William Louis-Marie, Squash Federation of Africa President Hany Hamouda, Nigerian Squash Federation President, Boye Oyerinde and a number of frontline doctors, the webinar featured information on the guidelines put forward by the Nigerian Squash Federation and the WSF and also saw participants from 12 states across the country share their experiences of playing squash since lockdown had been lifted.

“We needed to ensure that all stakeholders, including players, coaches, clubs, officials and facility managers understood the implication of playing squash during the pandemic,” said Oyerinde.

“This includes enlightenment on the pandemic, the risks, precautions, controls and related measures to be taken before opening and during the running of the squash courts.

“We wanted to create the necessary awareness highlighting the dangers of COVID-19 across Nigeria and to ensure that all stakeholders take the necessary precautions and follow all medical and government safety guidelines with regards to operating during the pandemic and peculiar guidelines for playing squash at these times.

“For over five months, the sporting community was on lockdown until the opening in early August allowing non-contact sport to return to play. No sporting activities were allowed during this period and it was a really difficult time for all stakeholders.

“Professional players had nothing to do but solo practices within confined locations and could neither play to keep active at the desired level nor earn any income. The same went for squash coaches who had no other means of livelihood.

“Thankfully, the excitement is coming back as activities are picking up, though this is still limited because of the health and safety restrictions due to the pandemic. It was a really difficult time for most people but thankfully, we are all alive and doing our best to keep well and safe.”

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