St Peter's Burnley Squash Club named Club of the Month
St Peter's Burnley Squash Club in Lancashire has been named England Squash’s club of the month in September following their success with Squash 101 and engaging 45 new players.
Located in the heart of Burnley on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire, lies St Peter's Burnley Squash Club. Established in 2012 with just four members, this two-court facility based at a local leisure centre is enjoying unprecedented success following the introduction of Squash 101, a programme created by England Squash to engage players in fun and social group activities.
It all started on World Squash Day last year when the club staged their first Squash 101 session to attract new players. 30 adults and juniors turned up to play, with Squash 101 champion Sarah Bailey from nearby Hyndburn Club running the session. Sarah’s passion and enthusiasm proved a real hit amongst the players with many of them vowing to return. It was a light bulb moment for the club.
Now Squash 101 is part of the club’s regular activities, engaging as many as 18 players per session. This summer alone, more than 45 people have played Squash 101 at the club, many of which are women and girls.
On Sundays, the club runs three separate Squash 101 sessions from 9-12 pm on a drop-in basis to offer players more flexibility. More skilful players can then move up to box leagues on a Tuesday evening.
Whilst having a base in a leisure facility presents its challenges, Ron Darlington, the club's secretary and coach, believes this more informal and relaxed squash environment provides the club with a golden opportunity. He said:
“Over the years, we’ve lost a number of players to clubs who were keen to play more regularly and competitively, and at a lower cost. However, we also have a lot of players who are looking to play on a more casual and informal basis, and we’re lucky to have a captive audience at the leisure centre.
"Squash 101 has been an absolutely perfect fit for this audience as it’s flexible, informal and fun. We’ve found that the right type of sessions coupled with the right kind of marketing has proved effective with those people who use other facilities in the leisure centre, and who haven’t yet tried squash. We’re pleased to say many of them are now hooked.”
“Through Sport England and Tesco Bags for Life funding, we've upskilled three Level 1 Coaches and three Squash 101 Leaders who are helping to deliver our Squash 101 sessions. This funding has also enabled us to subsidise the leisure court hire to drive costs down.”
“Squash 101 is the way forward for St Peter’s and we have plans afoot to start up a Squash Girls Can session. Our goal is to start up three teams in the North West Counties Squash league as well as women’s and junior teams.
“We’ll be opening our doors once again on World Squash Day and are keen to double last year’s numbers and stage several events to attract adults and juniors.
“St Peter's Burnley is first and foremost a club which gives access to our wonderful game of squash for players young and old to explore and enjoy the game for what it is - fun and social. Our goal isn’t necessarily to produce champions, but we endeavour to make squash enjoyable with great a team spirit and fun for all."