May 2022, Articles

Squash purple patch set to continue thanks to the Aspirational Fund

Squash has always punched above its weight, and it is looking to continue its Commonwealth Games medal winning ways in Birmingham and again in Victoria in 2026, helped by a funding and support partnership with HPSNZ.

Investment in the sport has and will continue to allow Squash NZ to support its top ranked players, world number one Paul Coll and world number five Joelle King, and equally importantly its crop of emerging players.

Squash is one of 11 non-Olympic sports to benefit from HPSNZ’s Aspirational Fund and already this is paying dividends for the sport as it heads towards the Birmingham Commonwealth Games with a target of four medals.

Martin Dowson, Squash NZ Chief Executive, says the additional investment in squash has helped support its leading players Joelle King and Paul Coll whose recent successes have been well heralded.

“The pair are based overseas, and we provide them with resources to support their training and competition and to prepare more strongly ahead of Birmingham where they are both touted as medal favourites.”

Importantly the HPSNZ funding has also allowed Squash NZ to increase its support for emerging players.

“We were able to send eight players and two coaches to the recent World Doubles Championships in Glasgow, the first international teams’ event in three years due to COVID.”

While preparation for the Glasgow tournament was hampered by last year’s lockdown for those players based in New Zealand, Shelley Kitchen, Squash NZ High Performance Manager, says the experience in Glasgow was invaluable.

“Our emerging players were outside the Top 10 in mixed and men’s doubles while the women’s doubles finished 10th. But Glasgow was an important starting point for our four-year programme heading towards Victoria in 2026 with squash confirmed on the sports roster.”

With the Oliver Sport New Zealand Championships scheduled for early July in Tauranga, New Zealand squash fans are in for a treat with both Paul and Joelle back in the country for the first time in three years.

Kitchen says, “We also expect strong performances from three of our up-and-coming players – Temwa and Lwamba Chileshe and Kaitlin Watts.”

Image: Photosport