Bollington Squash Club named Club of the Month
Bollington Squash Club has been named England Squash’s Club of the Month, with their young player participation drive culminating in 80 juniors attending coaching sessions at Bollington Health and Leisure Centre in Cheshire.
Over the past five years, Chris Ogden, the Head Squash Coach at the club, has worked tirelessly to increase the number of young players. Much of this is as a result of the formation of a junior programme and, on top of this, a primary school squash programme. The latter has seen around 150 children try out the sport over the last two years, and Ogden puts these encouraging statistics down to a positive coaching mind-set that allows players to enjoy the game as much as possible.
“The coaching team has a big part in it. If the kids enjoy the session and they find it fun, then they’re going to want to come back regardless of what other sports they play. There was some research conducted a while ago which concluded that the number one reason why kids take part in sport is the rapport they have with the coach.
”My Coaching philosophy is to provide the opportunity for as many people to play, learn and enjoy the game as much as I do; from complete beginners to those who really want to develop their Squash”
With children enjoying the sessions, it wasn’t long before more and more juniors got word of the activity. Equally important, Bollington Squash Club has managed to retain the majority of young players.
“A lot of the growth has come down to word-of-mouth because we’ve started building it up gradually with the number of sessions we run. The kids have gone away, told their mates about it, then they’ve come down and given it a go. Every time people have joined, not many have left. We’ve had to keep adding more and more sessions to keep up with demand.”
Such has been the popularity of the sessions, Ogden has found himself coaching almost every day of the week. Yet with a junior mentorship scheme in place that allows senior players to mentor younger talent coming through the ranks, the club has fostered a strong togetherness throughout its membership.
Senior participation levels are also healthy, but one aspect that required improvement was the ratio of female to male members. At one point, there was only one women’s team playing for every four men’s teams. After having promoted the Squash Girls Can initiative, the club plans to add a second female team in the North West County Squash League.
“We wanted to address the imbalance and increase the number of women that are playing at the centre. The sessions are successful because they’re pretty informal and focussed on just the enjoyment of the game. They went away, told their friends about it and brought them to the next session.”
Despite the club’s overall burgeoning membership, Bollington Health and Leisure Centre still has only two courts for the club to operate from. With participation levels snowballing, there are already ambitious plans in the pipeline to construct an additional four courts, which all starts with a funding application.
“We’re almost bursting at the seams currently. We’re just at the start of the process of applying for funding. We need to put an application together that is quite hard to turn down. We need to hit enough groups and areas that Sport England is keen to address – that’s what we’re hoping to work towards.”
As things stand, demand is outstripping supply at Bollington Squash Club which, if anything is perhaps a good dilemma to have.
“We can’t run any more group sessions for adults because then members can’t book courts for themselves,” Ogden explains. “The next challenge it to try and find a way of getting more court space and find enough funding to build them.”
These plans very much remain a long-term project, yet given the great strides the club has made in recent years, it seems there is little to quell its ambition to make the sport widely available to as many new players as possible.
“We’re lucky to have a fantastic coaching team at Bollington Health & Leisure as well as a supportive management who see the benefit of having a successful squash programme at the centre. We would also like to thank Fabric IT and Lifestyle Fitness who sponsor the club and help with our continuing development!”
Bollington Squash Club would be like hear from anyone who has experience with funding applications and projects like this and would be willing to lend a hand or simply give some guidance - please contact email@example.com