Squash Facilities Network makes big impact at Squash Summit

Thomas Troeddsen

The European Squash Federation’s working group, the Squash Facilities Network, made a big impact at this week’s PSA Foundation Squash Summit in Birmingham.

The Summit – brilliantly organised by Head of the PSA Foundation Adriana Olaya and her team and coinciding with the British Open at the city’s Rep Theatre – brought together key figures from across the squash world.

Our President, Thomas Troedsson, and Operations Manager, Marcel Borst, joined leading figures from the World Squash Federation, PSA, national federations, leaders from other sports, legends such as Nick Matthew and Nicol David, club managers, coaches and representatives from Squash for Development Organisations who use squash to achieve positive social impact in under-served communities around the world.

Together, we exchanged ideas and debated key issues. Major topics of discussion included future challenges, engaging new audiences, use of technology and, of course, the LA 2028 Olympic Games. However, many attendees said the Squash Facilities Network’s two sessions were among the most engaging and thought-provoking of the two-day event.

Squash Facilities Network CEO Markus Gaebel revealed some of the key findings from its 2024 Global Squash Report, emphasising the vital importance of facilities within the global squash ecosystem. Facilities bring in 75% of our sport’s $4billion annual turnover (£900M in Europe) – making them collectively the most important stakeholder in the game.

Markus Gaebel

It is this rich potential that the Squash Facilities Network will harness to strengthen the sport’s grassroots and foster its growth. Whilst a lot of focus is on the elite level of the game, without facilities and programmes to stimulate participation at grassroots level, the elite will not exist.

Other key findings from The Global Squash Report revealed at the Summit included:

– 90% of people who play squash are leisure players (infrequent and lacking deeper engagement)

– There is a clear link between nations with thriving squash industries and the proportion of profit-oriented facilities in those countries

– Squash’s global $4bn turnover is projected to grow by 50% by 2027, with substantial expansions in North America, Asia, and Eastern Europe

The Squash Facilities Network also hosted a breakout session in which it showcased some of the finest examples of good practice at squash facilities across the world. These were:

– Squash on Fire, Washington DC: Nadine Lanier Arsenyev explained how Squash on Fire had achieved stunning success thanks to leveraging data analytics to optimise customer experience and shape their programmes, as well as building strong partnerships and hiring the right coaches for each level of coaching programme

– Doncaster Squash Club, South Yorkshire, UK: The excellent Dave Cooke outlined how he turned an eroding club with an ageing membership into a thriving pay-and-play community facility by changing the culture, bringing juniors and women into the club and hiring role models (pro players) to inspire and drive engagement. (Read more)

– Open Squash, New York City: Open Squash ambassador Gina Kennedy, the world no.5, talked with great passion about their equitable approach – making squash accessible “for people who can afford to pay and people who can’t.”

ESF President Thomas Troedsson added: “It was an enlightening and enjoyable two days at the Squash Summit in Birmingham. The ESF, through the Squash Facilities Network, contributed to the exchange of ideas and debate about all aspects of the sport as we prepare for a hugely exciting four years in the build-up to 2028.

“The introduction of Squash Facilities Network’s Global Squash Report was one of the most talked-about sessions of the Summit, shedding light on the squash ecosystem and providing great insight into our game’s strengths and areas for growth.”