, ,

Club Development update – A challenging year in 2020 and a look ahead to 2021

We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on a particularly challenging year for club squash in 2020, recognise and thank you for the collaborative approach that we – as the governing body – have been proud to be a part of in order to safely begin the phased return of the sport, and to look ahead to the priorities for 2021.

Following the launch of a new four year strategy (‘Squash – A Sport for Health’) in 2019, the new look Club Development Team moved in to 2020 by continuing to develop and pilot a number of focused club development programmes.

It is these recruitment programmes, G/RLS DO SQUASH (including H//T SQUASH) schoolsquash and Going for Gold that clubs and coaches can use to form the basis of the strategy for supporting clubs to rebuild membership and attract new participants as we look ahead to 2021.

Thanks to the ACT/VATORS, Jenn Saldanha & Ailsa Polworth, the H//T SQUASH pilot started with a bang in early 2020 and was receiving great feedback until the national lockdown struck in March.

Despite this, and as we have seen throughout the squash community across Scotland, we were able to adapt and move the H//T SQUASH programme online to create ‘H//T SQUASH from Home’, an online H//T SQUASH workout helping people to stay connected and remain active throughout the pandemic.

Similarly, the squash community enjoyed the early release of the schoolsquash Resource Pack which was the focus of our Squash PE from Home series during the initial national lockdown.

With the introduction of unrestricted under-18 squash, we have started to re-connect with clubs and their local schools to re-introduce schoolsquash and the two brilliant pilot clubs (Forres Squash Club & Hamilton Squash Club) that we are delivering the Going for Gold programme in partnership with have plans in place for its re-introduction.

When it is safe to do so and guidance allows, H//T SQUASH will also return within a club setting. Looking ahead to 2021, we would encourage any club to reach out to the Club Development Team to explore the opportunities that these programmes can provide.

As clubs start to re-open and our amazing coaching and competition network start to explore opportunities for play, depending on local circumstances and in line with Scottish Government guidance, a number have explored the new opportunities available via the enhanced services being provided through the partnership with SportyHQ.

Please do connect with the Club Development Team if any of these opportunities are of interest to your club as we move towards 2021.

While we all recognise that the current guidance from Scottish Government continues to pose significant challenges for clubs and members, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the collaborative approach that has been evident to support the phased return of the sport. The engagement from clubs, particularly via the club support forum and the regular forum video calls introduced at the start of the pandemic, has been a crucial part of this approach.

The club support forum has been such a valuable way of communicating across the sport and we are keen to grow the club support forum community beyond the coronavirus pandemic, so please get in touch if your club are interested in joining the forum in 2021.

The current route map for the return of squash is set out on the Scottish Squash website, but we are continuing to work with key partners, present evidence and liaise with Scottish Government to work towards the earliest and safest return for squash across Scotland.

The current priority is to try and secure approval for the introduction of physically distanced squash (v7 of the guidance) and we will keep you updated on any development via the regular communication channels as we move in to the New Year.

Another key and immediate priority is to support clubs to access any available financial support to alleviate the current financial challenges that many are facing.

While the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework Business Fund has supported some clubs in this area, we are continuing to liaise with Scottish Government to provide evidence of where the gaps exist for squash clubs and facilities in order to re-direct support and influence future assistance.

We are committed to playing our role at a national level and would like to thank the clubs for all the work that they have undertaken at a local level in this regard. We will continue to work with clubs on an individual basis and based on the feedback from the club impact surveys that have been issued, and we would ask that clubs continue to share the details of any applications and learning in the club support forum so that other clubs and facilities can benefit from such insight.

In line with our earlier communication to clubs, we took the decision to waive all membership fees for the current 2020-21 membership year.

In terms of membership, the challenges for the governing body are similar to those that member clubs are facing – and we remain as committed to you as you have been to your members, so we will continue to offer all membership services in 2020-21.

As we move forward and look ahead to the 2021-22 membership year, we recognise that the sport, and in particular the many clubs and facilities, will face significant challenges to rebuild participation and membership levels.

We are keen to review the short and long term needs of clubs and facilities so that we can align the membership services going forward.

As part of this consultation, we are looking to hear feedback on the details of a revised membership structure which we believe will support both the recovery of the sport and allow it to grow stronger in the future.

We are looking to carry out the consultations early in the New Year and will communicate further details in due course.

We thank you for your continued support and we look forward to a brighter and squash filled 2021.