England Squash Awards Shortlist
The nominations are in! We're delighted to announce the shortlisted candidates for the England Squash Awards. Take a look at who's made the list and why the squash community believe they deserve to win.
The awards celebrate the outstanding commitment and contribution of people within the squash community who make a real impact on the game in England. The categories are:
- Coach of the year
- Volunteer of the year
- Club/venue of the year
- Referee of the year
- Rising star of the year
We won't make you wait any longer. Let's see who's been shortlisted for each category!
Coach of the year
"Clare is everything that you could wish for in a coach. She's enthusiastic, always positive and encouraging, and continually seeking new ways to get not only members involved but also those who have not to date had any involvement in squash. She has developed an excellent network with the local schools from primary to secondary, state and independent, and from those with no experience of racket sports to the more advanced. Clare has also identified and developed initiatives to widen the game and encourage more women and girls to play. It's no accident that Reigate has had more girls playing for Surrey than any other club in the county."
"The impact Coach Julian has had on Wigan Squash Club and the knock-on effect that has had on the wider Wigan community has been nothing short of phenomenal. The club is thriving, squash in the borough is front of mind with several key target groups such as mixed ability, women, juniors and under privileged sections of the community. And most importantly, everyone involved is really enjoying themselves."
"Yorkshire Squash approached Suzanne to help support a mixed ability project through IMAS, she was very happy to get involved and we have established an opportunity to enable individuals with complex social skills to participate in Racketball. This also adds enormous value to Barnsley Squash & Racketball club through their engagement with the community. The project has engaged participants from mixed ability to play alongside regular players, develop new skills, socially connect with others and to feel included. Yorkshire Squash are extremely proud of this project and we hope more clubs will follow Suzanne's lead."
"Aron was involved in organising IMAS mixed ability Squash 57 sessions for people with a disability alongside a number of Squash at the Mosque sessions. He reached out to the local mosque to run a squash session there before bringing young people to a local club where around 20 attend regularly. Aron also arranged Bounce Back weekly sessions for men, aimed at improving their mental health and wellbeing, encouraging them to talk in a safe, relaxed setting."
Volunteer of the year
"Jordan has built fantastic relationships with all her participants who attend her sessions. One participant from female squash who is transgender was nervous in coming down to the session has since fitted into the community really well. Jordan noticed they had really engaged with squash and would benefit from a new racket and squash shoes of their own. Jordan supported the participant with a funding bid to help them get started with their own equipment. As a result of this, the participant has joined the squash club and has bought their own equipment which will help them grow as an individual within the sport."
"Martin is the unsung hero of our club New Malden Sports Club. He is always so welcoming to everyone, particularly those at the club for the first time. He is happy to play with and offer advice to everyone, often long after the sessions are supposed to have finished! Martin also runs a women's only session and does not charge the club for his time. I can honestly say that there are dozens of members at our club who wouldn't have joined (and still be playing squash) were it not for Martin's warmth and generosity. He's recently started the club's 5th Team which he captains. Martin has gone above and beyond for the club, integrating our junior players into the 5th team and often sacrificing himself in order to give other players a game. Even when not playing, he will be at every game supporting his team, refereeing and even providing extra food to the club's offering!"
"Suzanne's engagement with the county has lead to a more positive culture within the women's league and has driven connections between all segments of the female playing community. Suzanne is connecting and bringing together isolated female players at clubs with no female critical mass and actively finding them a place to belong in our community. The county is regularly hosting Womens training sessions open to all women (16+). These have driven such a positive connection with players. Suzanne has been the key coordinator in organising and driving these events. One of Suzanne's goals is to retain existing teams and grow the number of teams playing in the Bucks Leagues next season. Her connection this season has brought together Bucks women to play and move into our first ICC finals in a very long time."
"Ruth has been the driving force behind the Winchester Racquets and Fitness Girls Squad which was created in late 2019. During lockdown she kept the squad together, facilitating a number of online activities including quizzes and zoom calls. When the girls were finally allowed back on court it was like they had never been away, although fair to say there was less squash and a bit more talking than normal at the first session back! Since then Ruth's enthusiasm and organisation has resulted in the squad going from strength to strength, with numbers continuing to grow and lots of the girls now playing regularly in ES events, local tournaments and friendly matches organised with local clubs by Ruth."
Referee of the year
"Lucy has gone above and beyond to not only develop herself as a referee through attending numerous competitions and events up and down the country, but also represented the values of England Squash at all levels. Alongside managing full time work for a sport development charity, Lucy has given so much time to refereeing, setting herself high standards and taking every opportunity to develop, be assessed and progress through her referee career. The rapport Lucy has with both her fellow referees and the players has made her an incredibly likable and respected figure in the squash community."
"Peter is a fantastic role model for other referees, providing encouragement and assistance to all. He's given up his time to referee at so many events and to be a Lead Referee that he has to be the busiest referee on the circuit. He has also taken on the role of Chairman of the recently formed referee committee as well as helping with anything he can behind the scenes. Lovely and approachable bloke too. Ultimately the time he gives up for our sport is incredible."
Jason was the referee at Canary Wharf final 2021 and many other grand PSA tournaments. He promotes and encourages others to take part in WSO and encourages fair play and respect of the rules and opponents at all times.
Rising star of the year
"Throughout lockdown, Alex met me in parks and fields to work on his fitness and stamina when we couldn't go on court. He joined me on bike rides and uphill sprints throughout winter to strengthen his legs and we discussed match tactics and his goals and how to achieve them. He came out of lockdown stronger than before and was passionate about getting back on court. He's taken responsibility for his development. Arranging additional training sessions throughout the holidays and gym sessions in order to prepare himself for England Development training. Every week he feeds back to me his progress on court and in league matches and we discuss what he wants to work on. His achievements on court have been many since Sep 2021 including winning the U15 EJC title, he came 2nd in the Pontefract Gold at U17 and beat the winner from the Pontefract Gold to win the Surrey Gold at U17 and won the U17 silver event in Warwickshire. More importantly he has grown up so much over the past 12 months. He has matured into a keen student who is actively seeking to improve and readily accepts advice and criticism without taking offense."
"Tristan won the U11 British Closed. He lways plays and trains happy, works really hard to improve, and shows great promise. Tristan is working hard to step up from aspire and super regionals to gain a place at EP next season. and to play for England!"
"Louise's parents were told by her care workers that she would not likely be able to participate in squash due to her needs. She has a brain condition called Pachygyria it's a life limiting condition with many complex needs. It affects all aspects of the body; muscle deterioration, severe vision impairment, epilepsy, severe global delay, speech impairment, Autism, ADHD, Dysphasia affecting eating and drinking, fine and gross motor skills, mental health and sleep deprivation. These impact on her daily life and her behaviour. She has no spacial awareness and no danger awareness - her hand-eye coordination is put to the test everyday, some days she uses her hands to eat as she can't find her mouth with a fork. Since Covid struck she has become hyper alert of her surroundings, noise and movement causing her anxiety to go through the roof. She tends to flit from activity to activity due to a short attention span. But squash it's a whole other story! For the first year or so she would struggle to hit/stop a rolling ball, she struggled with realising when it was her turn in group sessions and sometimes didn't understand how to do an activity. But she kept coming. And she kept smiling. And she made those in her group smile too, as well as the parents watching, and any of the coaches she has been on court with. In her mum's words, squash is her happy place."
"Whilst tournaments and her training sessions remained suspended from the pandemic, Mia kept herself motivated by working on her physical skills. Mia designed her own circuits/running which enabled her to return to the squash in the best possible condition. Including the on-court progression and tournaments, the main reason I want to nominate Mia for this award is to recognise her positive energy, attitude and enthusiasm towards her squash. Over the past year, I have seen Mia grow in confidence and take responsibility for her own training (S&C, solo practice, team matches). It is always a pleasure to coach Mia and I look forward to seeing her continue to develop her squash."
"Réka has only just moved into the Girls under 15s and went on to win the British title. She shows great composure on court and matureness and trains so hard everyday. She's a real inspiration for the sport."
"Jasmine continues to show consistent improvement. Working hard in training and when on Aspire Squads. Taking her performance seriously and putting in the effort to improve physically, technically, tactically and mentally. Reached the final of the last U17 silver. Always trains with a smile on her face and is already giving back and helping younger players as she continues to strive to win national events earn a place in the ED squad."
Club/venue of the year
Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club
"Current Surrey cup champions for both squash and squash57. hey now have over 50 active women squash and squash57 players taking part in squash and Racketball internal leagues, team matches, club nights and women's group coaching. The junior squash programme has over 130 boys and girls playing at least once a week in after school sessions, weekend junior programmes, academy sessions. Since Covid lockdowns, Surbiton has introduced squash sessions to 5 schools, 3 of which are new initiatives. The club currently has 4 female squash coaches incuding Alison Waters, former number 3 in the world who is helping coach many women and girls at the club."
Bexley Lawn Tennis and Squash club
The club recognised that they were short on female squash players so ran a female-only open day which was a great success and has led to a thriving female squash section, with 4 women-only group sessions, a girls-only junior group session, and women's internal squash leagues. The club's junior squash section goes from strength to strength, with over 10 hours of junior group sessions a week. On the elite side, the club has had 3 players ranked at no.1 in England this season. In masters squash there is Keeley Johnson, Karen Hume, and Mandy Akin winning events."
Wigginton Squash Club
"Since lockdown the club has bounced back massively. We have introduced new junior and women's sessions from our Monday juniors and SquashTots sessions to our Women's open Tuesday night sessions. We also encourage our juniors to take part in the Sunday Social which is open to any member of any standard. The club is active in the community and will be the centre point to the Wigginton playing fields Queen's platinum jubilee celebrations. The club has just had its open weekend and we had a team of 30 volunteers helping organise the weekend, we have shown the club off to returning members and new people to the area. Our volunteers have arranged junior tournament around the Yorkshire area and I fully believe that the success behind Wigginton is down to its volunteers and the way that their committee interacts with the club and members as a whole."
Hythe Cricket and Squash Club
"Success in getting through COVID, raising funds to keep going and planning development with a view to add 2 squash courts to double the size of the squash facility. Running professional tournaments there which was a fantastic inspiration to members and especially juniors. Organising for ex England players to come for an exhibition match and coaching/playing members. Hythe juniors form the largest part of East Kent Leagues to the point that they are now branching out to play in West Kent and Mid Kent Leagues to vary their opponents. Adult membership and the club have been fantastically supportive of juniors giving them access to free courts off peak and facilitating coaching / access to courts for juniors. The cricket volunteers have played a major part in the fundraising which the whole club has benefitted from. The social side of club is very strong and innovative in looking to develop facilities."