Home Interviews Funding restricts programmes & their penetration- Andrew Shelley

Funding restricts programmes & their penetration- Andrew Shelley

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Andrew Shelley (Center) during Ambassador Programme at Dalian (Image Credit: squashinfo.com)

World Squash Federation, WSF, has been working day in day out for the development of Squash across the globe. Still to be included in the Olympic programme, despite being there for quite a long; even there were talks of it to be included in Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Andrew Shelley, the CEO of WSF spoke with us on International Squash, recent changes, development plans and other related aspect.

Current challenges related to expansion of the sport, popularity…

As might be imagined, the sport as a whole is fortunate to have great people working to promote and develop it at local, national, regional and indeed world level. However, funding inevitably restricts what can be done in terms of breadth of programmes and their penetration.

Ambassador Programme- Impacts…

The ambassadors Programme has already been to Latvia, Namibia, Malawi, Venezuela, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Serbia and Croatia, before the visit that we are just concluding to Dalian and Macau in China. In each place media interest, coupled with coaching and referee workshops and play opportunities with stars leads to a blend of benefits. The hosts have been so enthused that as well as other international / regional events- Namibia has already hosted the WSF World Junior Championships and Dalian has applied to host the 2018 WSF Women’s World Team Championship.

Coach education programme, developments…

The WSF Coach Education Programme has been developed to provide assured standardized levels for coaches worldwide, and since the first level was introduced at the end of 2014 there are hundreds of coaches from dozens of countries who have attained the qualification, certified by WSF trained tutors. Level 2 has just come on stream, with the top tier (level 3) due to start next year.

Urban Programme and its area of operations…

While there is an absolutely superb Urban Programme to introduce youngsters to squash while schooling them too right across the USA, groups in other countries including Colombia and India have started similar schemes, and many more provide introductory opportunities to try squash for young people who may not otherwise have the chance to do so.

Facilities & support system…

Even without the obvious benefits of funding for sports that are on the Olympic Games Programme, member nations are able to implement schemes, we run regular Coaching and Development Conferences to provide ideas and general stimuli; and of course nations interact with each other too.

Infrastructure & monitoring the infrastructural development…

The international structures of squash features our five regional federations who each manage affairs in their area. This include percolating policies down to their nations, running championships and courses / conferences and advising generally too.

Overall there are 140 nations who have national federations who are in membership and they feature most of the 50,000 global courts.

Medical facilities & injury prevention…

WSF is heavily involved in the medical field by managing the World Anti-Doping Programme for squash, and ensuring that the sport is WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) compliant, but do not have a direct management role with respect to medical facilities. Our Medical Commission monitors requirements and developments, though.

In a recent EGM held on June 03, 2016, there were some landmark changes agreed upon by the members in the constitution and the organization structure. How has that impacted the vision of the organization and what are the changes that we might see as we progress forward?

There were some constitutional changes agreed at the recent EGM, which will be helpful going forward, but perhaps most importantly our President N Ramachandran announced that as a responsible organization we will be initiating an Independent Review to assess our structure, governance, relationships and partnerships so that we can ensure that our model can be improved as times change.

Technology or format upgrades that can make the game more popular…

The game evolves in terms of courts, presentation, broadcast and presentation, and PSA (Professional Squash Association) through the Tour take a leading role along with member nations, promoters and sponsors to ensure that this evolution is ongoing.

Squash is a great sport to watch live and on television, and along with all progressive sports we look to improve the spectator experience and quality of coverage of our great athletes.

Major goals for this decade and the steps taken…

We have forward plans for all of our key facets, but it is entirely possible that the forthcoming Independent Review will cause these to be adjusted, so we will publish updated versions shortly rather than looking to what we are using now. I am sure that they will take us further forward – which must be our direction of travel!