Thursday 19 March 2009

Swimming against the tide

Luton Dunstable Squash ClubWe’ve often commented on court closures and other negative stories associated with squash at a regional/local level, but recently we’ve been contacted by Paul Main, Chairman of Luton Dunstable Squash Club, which is attempting to swim against the tide and promote participation in squash …

Plus: Win the change to play Peter Nicol!

Paul writes:

"A few years ago Dunstable Leisure Centre had four courts and a vibrant club attached to it, but when the council handed the running of the centre over to private leisure centre management company, a decision was taken to close two, turning them into gym style studios – familiar story?

The club took the radical decision to relocate its playing base to a nearby facility run by Riley’s called Club Snooker and Squash in Luton which had a sorely underused seven courts. Once the initial bedding-in period had been completed under the sterling work of long standing Secretary Paul White, the Committee looked at its playing base and saw problems ahead. With what little junior coaching being delivered in admirable fashion by the lone Level 2 coach David Merrell - who was approaching retirement age - and the average age of active players being in excess of 40, it was clear that without action the club would be extinct in the not too distant future.

Two main objectives were identified just over a year ago

1. To increase junior participation
2. To increase adult membership.

The Committee agreed that it needed new coaches, and in December 2008 two members gained their Level 1 coaching qualification and now help David out on junior coaching nights that have seen an increase in the numbers attending as word has slowly spread.

The Committee set about working with the local county sports partnership and has just been given the green light to take Mini-Squash into local schools starting in the autumn term.

As far as increasing adult membership, the Committee sought to become a partner, again with the local sports partnership, in their very popular “Get Back Into” programme - a government funded scheme aimed at getting adults back into sport. Once again, the sport of squash was accepted, with Dunstable Squash Club being asked to deliver a seven-week programme.

The club also recently created a website to establish its first web presence. As part of that decision, the name and narrative for the site deliberately incorporated Luton so that the reality of the club was better reflected and a brand adopted.

Working with England Squash, the club last week achieved Silver Clubmark status - thus acknowledging their efforts - but also increasing funding opportunities for the future.

The final piece in the jigsaw in terms of promotion was the decision to organise a flagship event. That has been achieved with Peter Nicol agreeing to come along and play the winner of an open competition (click here for more details).”

Encouraging to see a club working hard to both promote itself and the sport; we wish them well in their efforts.

In our second year round-up we promised to look more at the efforts of national governing bodies in 2009, so anyone out there who has any good stories about efforts made by individuals clubs and/or their experience in working with regional or national bodies, please send them on.

Luton Dunstable Squash Club,


  1. My local sports centre has just informed me that they are going to close their one remaining squash court to make room for a larger gym. Is there anything i can do to prevent this?

    Crewe, Cheshire

  2. Hi,

    England Squash has been monitoring the increasing number of court closures and is making efforts where possible to try and challenge these closures.

    The Daily Telegraph (see their squash page) has also recently launched a campaign to stop local sports facilities being closed.

    Follow this link to learn more about both:

    If you have problems contacting them please email me (click on 'Contact' - top right) and I will forward you more details.

    If you send me some more details about this closure in your area I may also be able to highlight the story here.

  3. Shavington Leisure centre, cheshire. last remaining squash court is being closed to make way for an extended fitness suite. This dual facility is shared with the high school, but they have not seen fit to consult centre users about this redevelopment.


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