After a disruptive season of squash in 2020 due to the Covid‑19 pandemic, the game came bouncing back in 2021 with the relaxing of restrictions on the conditions of play. Members were generally enthusiastic to return to playing social and competitive squash and the utilization of the squash courts steadily increased throughout the year.
The Wanderers Squash Club fielded five teams in the Joburg Squash Reserve, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th leagues. This compared with seven teams in the years prior to 2020, the reduction being due to attrition in membership and some players’ reluctance to recommence playing during the pandemic.
The reduction in the Masters’ League teams (players older than 35) was more dramatic with the club fielding only two teams in 2021 compared with five in previous years.
The reduction in the flow of visitors, coaching activities, sponsorship and tournaments has resulted in a subsequent reduction in cash flow. It was therefore not possible to reinstate the services of a Court Manager to administer the activities at the courts. This has severely affected the club’s ability to provide court services to our members. The situation was mitigated somewhat by additional work carried out by the committee in ensuring that the courts were properly maintained, courts booked, fee payments collected and new members admitted. Having remote, online access to the court booking computer assists in this regard. However, irregular network connectivity at the squash courts continues to be a challenge and needs to be addressed in the coming year.
Squash development has taken a knock during the Covid19 National State of Disaster. Coaching of the Thusong Squash Development group from Alexandra has not taken place since February 2020 and is not likely to resume unless funding is provided for transport and a suitable coach is found to continue the training programme. However, a successful Fun Tournament was held in March 2021 when The Wanderers hosted Egoli Squash players and incorporated some of The Wanderers development players. The five top Thusong players had been given Honorary Temporary Membership of The Wanderers on the basis that they would be incorporated into the Joburg League teams. However, this has not transpired and therefore their HTM status has not been renewed in 2022.
Looking toward the future
The nature of the issues to be tackled during 2022 are multifaceted and will involve several iterations as direction is tested and adjusted. Although membership numbers are an “outcome” and a strong indicator of progress, the team is more concerned with tackling some of the enablers that will ensure sustainable progress. The following initial areas will be focused on as we progress the year:
- Reshaping the vision for the club (with a theme of “sporting excellence”)
- Squash Promotion:
- Scheduled External and Internal Tournaments
- The year started positively with a successful Zambia vs SA tournament in January and a possible PSA international tournament is planned for September.
- League participation and performance of league teams
- We have entered 6 teams in the JHB League this year (Reserve, 3rd, 4th, 2 x 5th and a 6th league side), as well as 3 masters league sides (2 x 2nd and a 4th)
- Sponsorship Packages & Opportunities
- Addressing Visitor policies in the context of the club’s mandates
- Member Participation:
- Broader Cross-Club participation: Court Usage as a key indicator
- Member Mix: attracting juniors and ladies to the sport
- The Sunday Social (16h00 to 18h00) has gained popularity and has proven to be a good way for new members to be introduced to the club and for them to gauge their relative strength for various forms of participation.
- Accessibility to coaching (especially for Juniors)
- Creating developmental infrastructure (e.g. Academy)
- The committee is in final discussions with Egoli Squash to support this important initiative.
- Availability: ensuring increased presence and accessibility of the facility
Finally, we have seen increased interest in the club with a steady growth in membership over the past few months, as well as increased court usage which bodes well for the revival of the club post the covid-19 disruptions of the past 2 years.
Wanderers Squash Committee