As the holiday season is upon us and the close of another challenging year, I want to take a moment to reflect upon our game and the wonderful people who play it, support it, and organize it.
Squash is a game for all. I was vividly reminded of that at the Canadian Junior Championships in October and at the Canadian Junior Open earlier this month. In scanning the participants and their supportive families, it is clear that this next generation of participants not only possesses considerable talent and passion for the game, but also reflects the wonderful diversity of Canada. We see ethnocultural diversity, new and second generation Canadians, people identifiable as a visible minority, and young girls unafraid to show their fierce competitiveness. We see them go backhand to forehand against each other, while also coming together to share, bond, laugh and sometimes cry. The power of sport to bring people from different backgrounds together is beautiful to behold, and squash continues to prove to be a most excellent example.
The Junior Championships were hosted at Urban Squash Toronto. If you don’t know much about this group, you need to. Inside their walls you can feel the impact they are making on young lives.
Urban Squash Toronto is a charitable organization that uses squash for social and personal development. They use the draw of squash to combine an intensive after-school, 7 days-a-week, yearlong education program, supporting under served youth in the Jane-Finch corridor to reach their full academic, athletic and personal potential. Squash with real purpose. They are game changers in the lives of 125+ youths every year. Take a look and consider making a contribution.
We also scan the country and see how resilient the broader Canadian squash community has been. With safety measures in place, we saw people come back to the game, the club and the friendships with such joy, undaunted even, after a pandemic-induced layoff. It was so good to be back!
It seems we are being tested again, as this next Omicron wave curtails some facilities, gatherings, tournaments and travel. So we must endure and persevere once again.
We recognize the extraordinary efforts of provincial/territorial squash associations and local clubs to provide measures and protocols to re-open doors and activities while ensuring the safety of participants. To provincial and club leaders, squash pros, volunteers, we understand your value as leaders of the squash community. We value your talent and skills, and we believe you will not only help drive squash’s return but in the not too distant future, will even see it grow to new levels.
We thank our funding partners, including 15 new sponsors who have pledged their support for Squash Canada’s vision to be a world leading squash nation, while inspiring all Canadians to participate.
Lastly, I would like to recognize my Board and staff. Squash Canada is fortunate to have such bright, caring volunteer Board leaders who freely share their knowledge and are unafraid to make tough decisions and roll up their sleeves to help with the heavy lifting required of a national sport organization.
In the last year, our staff has risen to such heights. Jamie Nicholls, Geoffrey Johnson, Tara Mullins, interns Jessa Paton and Aqil Pirani have all poured themselves into their roles, brought new events, partners, programs and initiatives to the organization, and overcome unprecedented challenges. It is your energy, talent and hard work that have brought such benefits to the game. We appreciate your excellent performance and would like to publicly thank you. Our team is so excited to bring even more to squash in 2022!
Wishing all squashers a wonderful holiday season, and best wishes for a 2022 that will see lots of rubber hit the road – or wall, as the case may be!