40 Children ranging in age from 7 to 17yrs play squash in the programme. They have been divided according to age into 5 groups. There are 19 girls and 21 boys. The programme started in late January so they have been playing for 10 months. Each child has their own racquet and squash specific shoes. PRINCE kindly gave us racquets and shoes at cost price so we were able to afford really good quality. The smaller size shoes we sourced from Woolworths. PRINCE also gave me a large squash bag to carry all the racquets in and squash balls to use at the practises. PRINCE also voiced their willingness to supply any other equipment needed for other sport development on the farms. We use the squash courts at the Ceres Pine Forest which is a Municipal Resort. Robert Graaff sponsors the transport to get the children to and from the courts and Chris Hans (Farmworker) is the very able liason between myself and the farm.
The obvious benefit for the children has been a huge improvement in their general motor co-ordination and self-image. Remember, the children had never handled a racquet before! They now can control a ball with a racquet! Enormous opportunities await all them as they can participate in squash events all over the country. We fall under the Boland area and they can play for Boland Provincial Teams from under 11 to under 19 and then in the Open category until they no longer can walk!! (over 75 is the oldest bracket). Boland presents a tournament for “new players” on the 29th Nov and I hope to take as many children as possible to play in this fun tournament to be held in Paarl. There is also a National Satellite Games Tournament held each August in George which is specifically aimed at Development Players which we hope to attend in 2009.
The progress the children have made is quite remarkable if one considers that they only play once a week. The two oldest groups can play a game and keep score. These skills take longer to teach the smaller children who are not as physically strong and as well co-ordinated. They really enjoy the squash and physical exercise. I also try to teach them the discipline required to be a good player and acceptable squash etiquette – just as important as the correct technique!!
I am an avid squash fan and Professional Coach who has seen first hand how much squash has meant to my own children and the hundreds that I have coached over the last 20 years. I feel sure that we have a few potential provincial players in this group and I would like to find a way to fast track the children with high potential.
So far this Development has progressed far better than my most ambitious dreams! We only budgeted for 30 players but when 66 turned up at the first couple of practises I could not cut it down to less than 40! The children are having a great deal of fun while learning a most worthwhile game and I am getting the utmost satisfaction from being part of the process. All the effort and time is most worthwhile and I look forward to producing some really good squash players from this group – but an entire group with better life skills and positive self-images.
~ Article written by Glenda von Buddenbrock (Squash Coach) ~