Horsham’s Club leading the charge
The first thing you become aware of when you step inside Horsham Squash Club on game night is the sound of rigorous activity echoing through the building.
Rubber balls slapping around plastered walls, the shuffling and squeaking of rubber shoes on timber floors as racquets make firm contact and the call of the score, can all be heard over the droned murmur of social banter.
There is a buzz of excitement that you can’t ignore.
While many sports are struggling for numbers, squash is experiencing a resurgence in the Wimmera, and Horsham’s club is leading the charge.
Competition numbers have grown by more than 40 percent in the past two years, forcing the club to re-open two spare glass courts it had given up for storage.
So why is squash growing so quickly in Horsham?
Club president Russell Davies has been playing squash since 1974 – about the time he was starting his senior football career at Laharum.
Like so many of his club members, Russell never tires of the game and still drops in two or three times a week to practice. “It’s an addictive game because the moment you start playing you can see where you can improve your game, and decades later you are still learning new tricks,” he said.
“You watch others play and you see something you can try to add to your game so you have another trick up your sleeve.”
Russell said there was a variety of reasons why squash was having a resurgence here.
“We just seem to be getting the message out there more, and I think our junior program has a lot to do with it,” he said.
It’s an addictive game because the moment you start playing you can see where you can improve your game, and decades later you are still learning new tricks – Russell Davies
“There are many juniors picking up the game quickly and then taking on the adults in the night competition.
“Then their parents come down to watch and suddenly they want to take up the game as well.”
Russell said the major benefits of squash were that it was open to all ages and was played indoors.
“This means anyone can play and at any time of the year or any time of day,” he said.
“You can have a hit on your own or you can play with people above or below your own standard, and you still get a decent hit.
“It’s a very social game and the best game for your fitness.”
Russell said many people took up squash when they were too old to play football or basketball.
“Us older players love it because you aren’t chasing the ball as much. It keeps bouncing around the walls and coming back to you,” he said.
Horsham players have enjoyed success at tournaments across Victoria and throughout Australia.
Victorian Masters tournaments are played several times each year for players aged 30 and older and once a year Victorian teams play for their state in the Australian Masters.
“We had two players represented in Darwin recently and in Perth last year, and before that we had three play in Canberra who won their division title,” Russell said.
“We just finished hosting the biennial Western Districts tournament which attracts players from as far as Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton, Millicent and Naracoorte, and a few from Melbourne.
“The level of squash at all these tournaments is exceptional and it’s exciting to watch.
“It’s the best free entertainment you could wish for.”
Russell said many players at Australian Masters tournaments were in their 60s and 70s and some were in their 80s.
“Some of our top players are in their early 60s and they give the young players a good run for their money,” he said.
“These older players are just so inspirational to watch – as they get slower, they become more cunning with their shot selection.
“It’s more proof of how addictive the sport is and how it can keep you healthy.”
• Horsham’s courts are in Mcpherson Street, opposite Horsham Showground. Other Wimmera towns with competitions and courts include Ararat, Nhill, Donald, Warracknabeal, Stawell and St Arnaud.
Tom Kelson from
Warrnambool competes at Horsham