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arrow pointing leftBack 29 September 23 - by Jasmine Collett

England Squash welcomes the first ever Mixed Ability Squash event

History was made in Pontefract last month as England Squash held the first-ever Mixed Ability Squash event.

Ran in partnership with International Mixed Ability Sport (IMAS), the festival took place at Pontefract Squash Club on Tuesday 22 August and brought players of all abilities onto court together for the very first time.

Both Mixed Ability teams - the Calder Crocs from Old Crossleyans Squash Club in Halifax and the Ponte Pirates from Pontefract Squash Club - attended the pilot event, with participants enjoying and embracing the experience.

This new approach to ‘competitions’ meant everyone got the chance to get involved and play against opposing teams, with players with a disability or impairment getting their first taste of fun competitive play.

Mixed Ability Squash aims to provide inclusive and open activities and is designed to get people on court of different playing abilities having fun and enjoying themselves.

Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist James Willstrop wrapped up the historic event by congratulating the participants with a medal.

Val, a staff member from Pontefract Family Centre, said:

“It was amazing, it was really good to see other people developing and bringing them together because that’s what we should be doing.”

Jo Rowbottom, Head of Partnerships and Communities at England Squash said: “To have the first Mixed Ability Squash event is a great step forward for the programme.

“It was great to see each team having their names and identity, something which added a lot of fun to the event.

“The goal is to develop a Mixed Ability series with other clubs who have been involved in the Mixed Ability Squash programme.”

Mark Goodwin, IMAS Director, believes the event is important to break down the barriers people face when participating in mainstream sports.

He said: “The event offers people with a disability the opportunity to mix with regular members of grassroot squash clubs and feel a sense of belonging there.

“These members may also be experiencing interaction with people with disabilities for the first time.”

Aron Harper-Robinson, CEO of Calder Community Squash added:

“This was a great success, with everyone getting involved, but more importantly having fun on court and enjoying a good old social!

“We’re only at the start of the journey, but the potential is huge, and the future of Mixed Ability Squash is looking bright.

“We want to see more clubs embracing this truly inclusive model, creating a network of new teams up and down the country.”

To find advice and resources on running your own Mixed Ability Squash session, please visit our inclusion and diversity toolkit.