Government allows a return to squash under Lockdown Level 3
The good news for South African squash is that the Government has allowed a return to squash in Lockdown Level 3. An amendment to the Directions issued on 9 April 2020 was gazetted on 11 June by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture.
In the amended Directions, Squash South Africa was listed as one of 25 sports bodies representing a non‑contact sport that is allowed to resume training and matches.
This is exciting news for all of South Africa’s top players and coaches who wish to continue with Provincial and National tournaments and who rely on squash as all or part of their income. In terms of Paragraph 6A of the Directions, Squash SA is instructed to submit an Operational Plan to the Minister for the resumption of training and matches by “professional athletes”.
Squash SA worked hard to produce this plan and eventually a 65-page document was submitted to the Minister on 18 June 2020. Once the plan is approved by the Minister, Squash SA will be able to give instructions to various clubs around the country on how they may recommence training and coaching in a phased manner.
The full document “Return-to-Play: Operational Plan” is available on the Squash SA website.
That was the GOOD news. Now for the BAD news….
There will be no return to squash at The Wanderers for the foreseeable future.
The scope of the Directions by the Minister applies to “…all affected public entities under the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture including …. clubs, professional leagues, sport bodies…” and covers “professional non‑contact sporting events” only.
The “Return-to‑Play” document submitted by Squash SA specifically excludes non‑affiliated squash players (i.e. individual, social squash players who have not registered with Squash SA). In fact, it goes even further than that; it only covers “professional & elite players and coaches” during Lockdown Level 3. A list of these players is provided in the document and NOT ONE player is listed under The Wanderers Squash Club.
Also, in terms of Annexure A of the Directions from the Minister “Only athletes, support staff and officials under the age of 60 … are allowed to participate”.
So, unfortunately, the average club player has “fallen between the cracks”. The Wanderers Management will not allow play to resume at the courts until Squash SA gives the go‑ahead and Squash SA do not even have The Wanderers Club on their radar for months to come, during Lockdown Level 3.
I empathise with those players who have remained loyal to the club in anticipation of a relaxation of the regulations in the near future and who are now frustrated that their early fee payment will not be rewarded with an early return to squash. To the 40% of the squash club members who did not renew this year, I fully understand your decision. At best, we can possibly hope for a change to Lockdown Level 2 by September but even then, I cannot be sure that the “ordinary member” will be allowed to return to play.
Please keep monitoring our Facebook page and I will inform you of any updates as soon as I’m aware of significant changes.
In order to combat the spread of the virus, it is important to follow the official hygiene rules, one of which is to WASH YOUR HANDS with SOAP.
The COVID‑19 virus is protected by a fatty layer around its perimeter. Soap can dissolve this layer and destroy the virus before it can spread and infect yourself and others.
WEAR A MASK, DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE and WASH YOUR HANDS!!