The story of Forthill Squash Club is one of regeneration and inspiration.
In 2015 the Broughty Ferry club had a membership of 23 which included just one junior player.
But after the efforts of a dedicated committee and a ‘squash for all’ approach to recruitment the membership base has risen to 88, a third of which forms the Junior section.
Last month, the culmination of four year’s hard work was showcased at the official re-opening of two newly refurbished courts at Forthill by Joe FitzPatrick, MSP for Dundee City West and Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing and Shona Robison, MSP for Dundee City East.
“Looking back, as a club we were too ‘team focused’ in the halcyon days,” Forthill Squash Club member William Irvine explained.
“A new member would join and the first question most people asked was ‘are they any good? Are they up to team standard?’
“This led to a feeling of the top players being important and the less experienced ones not so.
“Coupled with our address in an affluent area, an elitist stigma put off potential new members.
“We recognised things had to change and we have worked hard over the past three years to address this.”
He continued: “Our ‘squash for all’ ethos means that, regardless of squash experience, every member is treated the same, and every new member is made to feel welcome from the moment they make contact with the club.”
Two of Forthill’s newest members have proved their approach is working with the pair reaping the physical and mental health benefits of squash whilst enjoying the social side of being a club member.
Both in their 30s, Mark Steadman and Gary Gibb reported a weight loss of more than a stone each after just a month of playing squash and believe joining Forthill has made a positive impact on their general wellbeing.
Mark said: “I was looking for a sport that could improve my fitness and I would enjoy playing as a hobby. Since joining it has been a pleasure to be part of such a welcoming and supportive club.
“From my very first contact with the club I was made to feel incredibly welcome – my lack of knowledge about the sport and level of ability never being seen as anything other than a positive starting point on which to build.
“In a very short space of time I have found myself significantly lighter, fitter, more motivated and generally happier.
“I have also gained an ever improving squash game and now play in the Forthill Squash Club league.”
Gary added: “Joining Forthill has given me a new lease of life and it’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time.
“Everything from day one has been positive and I’ve been made to feel very welcome.
“I’ve met a lot of good people and have some great new friends.”
The cash injection from increased membership and fundraising together with the implementation of a financial restructuring plan has enabled a renovation of Forthill’s outdated entrance, ladies changing area, communal hallways as well as three squash courts.
All court lighting is now up to World Squash Federation competition standard.
Willie Irvine said: “The increase in membership has been crucial and we now run a thriving Junior section with our offering including after-school clubs, Easter and Summer squash camps and a Girls Festival.
“But we must cater for all ages – the Junior section is vital for the future of our sport but the Senior section is vital for the future of our club.”
At the opening of the two most recently refurbished courts last month, Joe FitzPatrick, MSP for Dundee City West and Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, above, said: “It was encouraging to hear that participation is increasing at the club and fantastic to see people of all ages enjoying this fast-paced sport.”
Shona Robison, MSP for Dundee City East, above, added: “It was great to visit the refurbished courts with the Minister and to meet junior members.
“Participation in sport can be a brilliant way both to keep fit and bring people in communities together, so it’s fantastic to see these excellent facilities here locally in Dundee.”
If you want to play squash or become a member at Forthill Squash Club, contact the club through their Facebook page, here or via email by contacting Irene Morrison – email@example.com or call Willie Irvine on mobile number – 07887791398.
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