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Dearth of public squash clubs in India

jaiswaladitya
CONTRIBUTOR
16 Sep 2014, 19:19 IST
Squash should be supported in India

Only privileged class play the sport

Squash as a sport has long been around in Indian Sporting diaspora, but has still not received the acclaim and recognition it should. Primarily reason being that it is still relegated to the select few who have privileged access to the Squash Courts in the country.

Squash by history has been a sport of the elite in India. Primarily played either by people serving in Indian Armed Forces which have the facilities of Squash courts or the richer section of the society who have access to the high end clubs in the metros. This is more a reflective of the British Raj legacy which restricted the use of the facilities to certain elite sections of the society. Unfortunately things didn't change much for the common public with regards to the sport. The other avenues of the courts were the Public Sports Complex in the Tier 1 and 2 cities having Multi sports facilities also catering to Squash and the high end apartment complexes in the Metros providing the Squash courts in their Club Houses as an additional incentive to the residents. The last places were few of the Universities and Colleges which had the squash courts.

However this meant that to play squash you need to be either in the army, or rich, or a privileged student, or a resident of the high end apartment complex in India. This forms a very small minority in the country. To make the sport popular and accepted by a larger population this level of penetration in the society is very minimal.

Bad infrastructure

Also the quality of the courts has always been a matter of concern across the country. Still a majority of the squash courts in India do not have well maintained flooring, glass back walls, and climate control/proper lighting/painting in the courts. Most of them ask for renovation and upgrading to better levels. There are times when players from Tier 2/3 cities come to play the tournaments in Metros and that for them, is the first exposure to wooden flooring and climate controlled courts where the game is entirely different than the cement flooring. Even in the international arena most of the tournaments advanced rounds are played on the glass courts and we have just a handful of them in the country for the best in the country to train on.

We are seeing a surge in good results in Squash in India recently with wins from Senior Men's Players like Saurav Ghosal, Mahesh Mangaonkar, Harinder Pal Sandhu, Ramit Tandon and Women's Players like Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinnappa, Anaka Alankamony and promising juniors like Kush Kumar, Harshit Jwanda, Madhav Dhingra to name a few. We have these players breaking into the Top 10 and Top 20 in world rankings and winning medals abroad.

 

More marketing is required

The time is ripe for squash to regain its position in popularity among the masses and be more widely played and accepted as a recreational as well as fitness sport. To do the same we need to have more and public courts available in India as is the norm in most of the western world. These clubs provide the facilities and access to courts to the general public on a play and pay basis. The courts also provide the provision for training facilities with coaches linked to these courts and available for people individually or in group. They also run junior level squash coaching for promoting the game in youngsters.  There are also local tournaments and leagues which are conducted in the clubs to help people play with different players within the region and measure their strength.

Also these clubs help in developing a social network providing adequate and effective workout to the general public. With the advent of the increasing awareness about personal fitness among today's youth, squash can be presented as one of the best options to the working Indian. Squash as a sport also has been rated as the healthiest sport by the Forbes Magazine.

So the onus is now on the individuals/groups and entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic about squash to invest in the squash clubs around the country and help the sport reach its full potential and reach within the country.

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