Hor­sham’s Club lead­ing the charge

LifeStyle Wimmera - - INSIDE - By Peter Miller

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

Squash Club.

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