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arrow pointing leftBack 10 April 24 - by England Squash

Squash’s finest recognised at 2023 England Squash Awards

The winners of the 2023 England Squash Awards have been confirmed.
England Squash has announced the winners of the 2023 England Squash Awards, recognising efforts from the squash community in England over the last twelve months.

The Awards celebrate the clubs, coaches, referees, volunteers, and players that are committed to helping give people access to the sport and changing people’s lives through squash.

From a shortlist of individuals and clubs, nine winners have been recognised for their incredible achievements in 2023.

Abbeydale Squash and Fitness Club were named Club of the Year for their work to improve inclusivity in the sport, raising female participation through a number of initiatives and targeted programmes. This has led to the club having a fifty-fifty gender split on their committee and the development of a Squash from the Mosque session being created exclusively for Muslim women, which has grown to 36 members.

Coach of the Year was won by Northern Squash’s Bob Aynsley, who’s relentless drive and enthusiasm has driven an increase in participation. Bob planned a coaching programme for adults looking to get into the sport, named ‘Give Squash a Try’, at the start of 2023 which has seen participation double over the year. Bob was also heavily involved in the creation of a women’s league which launched in October.

Steve Eccles has created and run sessions to get people into squash officiating since 2020, with two sessions each year. In 2023, Eccles ran 20 sessions and has already put on 11 sessions so far this year at various clubs and universities across the UK. His commitment to supporting the next generation of referees saw him selected as Referee of the Year.

Unsung Hero of the Year was awarded to Pauline Young for her work as a trustee and volunteer Lead Coach at Charnwood Squash and Racketball Club. Young has conducted a lot of work with local primary schools with over 260 school children having one or more session during school since lockdown, including several pupils with learning and behavioural difficulties.

Malikah Khan is a student at the University of Birmingham who runs squash and badminton groups targeting women and the deaf community in particular. These inclusive sessions have provided a welcoming space where deaf people feel valued within the activity, earning Khan the Community Project of the Year award.

Young Volunteer of the Year went to Finlay Stott who coaches at Duffield Squash Club and runs the entire junior programme. The 19-year-old went above and beyond his usual duties when the club experienced a devastating flood during Storm Babet in October. Over 200mm of water was present throughout the club’s ground floor ruining all the squash courts and changing rooms. Stott managed to source an industrial pump, which he used to remove the remaining water over the course of 24 hours, before contacting other local clubs to keep members active while the club recovered.

Emily Coulcher-Porter is an established star at junior level and last year won the British and English Championship Under 17 titles. Her 2023 form saw her selected to represent England at the European Under 19 Championships this month and earn the Female Rising Star of the Year award.

Mitaire Onoge is England Squash’s Male Rising Star of the Year after a successful season that saw him earn six tournament wins as well as finishing runner-up at the 2023 British Junior Championships. The nine-year-old star came across squash during a summer holiday camp back in 2021 and has never looked back. He has established himself as a future star in the game under the coaching of Thomas Fairhurst, Head Coach at the National Squash Centre.

Moment of the Year went to England’s European team double triumph in Helsinki last April. The women’s side defeated Belgium in their final while the men beat France in hotly contested games for both teams, which included stars Mohamed ElShorgbagy and Georgina Kennedy.

England Squash CEO Mark Williams said:

“The England Squash Awards give us the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the incredible achievements and contributions of some of the many people that make the squash community so special. Every year we hear so many amazing stories about individuals doing such fantastic work and this year is no different.

“The nominations we received have highlighted a real commitment to increasing diversity and accessibility across the sport in England which is of huge importance to us all. There has also been a real drive to give more young people the opportunity to try squash, something that is crucial to the future of the sport. Above all we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to growing and supporting squash for their hard work and effort.

“The sport is entering a bright new future as we head towards our first Olympic Games in 2028 and we must work together to make the most of the opportunity. The hard work and commitment demonstrated by our award nominees is exactly what we will need across the sport in order to achieve the best possible impact for squash squash at every level.

“Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees at the England Squash Awards, and thank you!”

To learn more about the England Squash Awards, please click here.