The founding of UK-Racketball by Mark Fuller
I was first introduced to racketball when I joined Hallamshire Tennis and Squash Club whilst at university. To be honest, at first I was not a big fan of the sport, as far as I could see one of the best squash clubs in the country was being gradually taken over by racketball. Almost half the courts were now being taken up by racketball players, twice as many juniors were playing racketball as were playing squash and at the same time squash teams were struggling to find players and gradually teams were pulling out of leagues.
As most squash players are aware, over the past couple of decades squash has been on the decline both in terms of number of players and number of clubs. In the county where I originally started playing (Northamptonshire) almost half the clubs have now closed. When I joined Hallamshire I expected to see squash booming (the club had over 30 internal leagues!). Instead I continued to see squash on the decline, not empty courts, just more and more people choosing to play racketball. I saw racketball as the cuckoo that was taking down squash from the inside.
After playing at Hallamshire for 4 years, 3 while I was at university and 1 as a full time player and coach, I moved to the Park Squash Club in Nottingham. The Park has virtually no racketball players (6 I think) and on the surface appears to be a thriving squash club. It has nearly 650 members 10 courts that are used constantly from 5 to 8 every evening and well attended social events. But, the club is still struggling. Membership only 5 years ago used to exceed 800 and there was even a 200 player waiting list. For the next year I didn’t really have any contact with racketball. I had joined PSA in 2008 and my focus was solely on my squash.
Although I call myself a full time squash player this has never actually been completely true. Despite my income from squash always steadily improving (since I left university) I have not yet managed to completely support myself from squash alone, this meant that I have always had to have jobs alongside playing and training. The job that I had last summer was working for the Park as a duty manager; my job included organising bar staff, helping to run events and marketing the club.
It was during this period that we were approached by England Squash and Racketball to look at developing the racketball side of the club. By looking at the statistics that they provided us, we became aware of the massive potential that racketball had for the future of Nottingham Squash Club. It was left to me to write a report on how racketball could benefit the Park based on trends recorded from other clubs and then to present this at the AGM, where we would be requesting peak time courts for racketball coaching. (I have included this report in the section on developing racketball in your club).
After looking through the statistics provided by England Squash and Racketball it made me aware of just how far and fast racketball had spread. I found out that one of the reasons why England Squash and Racketball was beginning to receive better funding was that in our target driven world, adopting racketball into the organisation to become England Squash and Racketball, meant that it was now the governing body of one of the UK’s fastest growing sports. Many of the country’s squash clubs are only surviving due to this influx of new racketball players and that as squash players become older they can prolong their lives on court by taking up the less strenuous game of racketball. The statistics show that racketball is also more popular than squash among both juniors and women and therefore a good way of getting squash clubs demographics more balanced.
I began to see racketball far from contributing to the downfall of squash, but rather being a potential source of salvation. When conducting this research, however, it became apparent that despite racketball’s rapid expansion, I noticed there were still many things that the sport lacks, including a good information site. Most of the racketball information that I was getting was either from England Squash and Racketball or from sites that were either out of date or rarely updated, this is what first gave me the idea for uk-racketball.
Aims and Objectives of UK-Racketball