This year’s World Squash Federation (WSF) Initiative will be hosted by the Kenyan Squash community in Nairobi, Kenya.
Launched in 2011, the WSF international promotional initiative takes leading squash players, together with an international coach and referee, into younger squash nations to help raise the sport’s profile.
This is done through clinics, exhibition matches, refereeing, coaching seminars, and media presentations.
Kenya will be proud hosts of the sport’s ultimate Ambassador Nicol David former Number 1 from Malaysia who shortly after bringing her illustrious professional squash career to a close will join fellow players Camille Serme France World number 4 and Borja Golan Spaniard former world number 5 for the 2019 WSF Ambassador Programme visit to Kenya.
Joining the three will be Belgian national coach Ronny Vlassaks and international referee Marko Podgorsek, from Slovenia in the campaign that will take place take place from 27 to 30 June.
David, 35 is a tireless squash campaign and ambassador with a record eight time world champion having played significant roles in all the sports Olympic bids since 2005.
She has been leading light in several women’s tour promotions visits to raise the profile of the sport in all corners of the globe in the 11 years preceding the WSF programme and participated in four of the ‘Ambassadors’ initiatives from 2011 to 2015.
“We are all excited as this is truly the biggest event yet for our sport,” said the squash national representative Gakuo Ndirangu.
Gakuo who was speaking ahead of the visit, said the timing is perfect and that Squash is now really on the up and with all the squash clubs taking up a greater initiative in the promotion of the game at all levels.
“Having these great players, coach and referees here in June will stimulate this even more. Events will be hosted by Parklands Sports Club and the Nairobi Club, with all others joining in too,” he said.
WSF CEO Andrew Shelley added: “As always, we are immensely grateful to Camille and Borja for taking time away from the busy international tour schedule to lead this vital promotional visit and are thrilled that Nicol David will be able to be with us again too and delight Kenyans with both her charm and her skills.
“We look forward to meeting and interacting with the Kenyan squash community and help the national federation boost the sport’s profile,” Shelley said.
The WSF Ambassador Programme first visited the Baltic country of Latvia in 2011, followed by a trip to the African countries of Malawi and Namibia, then Panama and Venezuela in 2013, Papua New Guinea in 2014, before focusing on the Balkan region in 2015 with appearances in Serbia, Romania and Croatia. In 2016, the team visited Dalian and Macau in China. After the 2017 edition was postponed, the WSF team headed to Armenia, Ukraine in 2018.
The sports game in the country although growing and gaining popularity has been a slow game as it is not played at school levels.
Looking at the game, one might take it like a simple exchange of balls between players, but according to players, it is a game that has to be well thought out and combines physical agility and strategy.
According to Gakuo who has been in the team that organizes the KENGEN squash competition tournaments at the Parklands Sports Club including the national tournaments, the game which is also played using rackets just like tennis is however faster than tennis and players have to be alert, balanced and quick on their feet using the right gear.
“During the tournament, silence is encouraged in the courts for better concentration as it is intense,” he said adding that in order for the game to grow they organize competitions from junior levels to the senior level throughout the year in their squash calendar.
By Wangari Ndirangu