The Cayman Islands Junior Squash Programme kicked off a couple of weeks ago at the South Sound Squash Club and those who run the programme are keen that any youngster interested in trying out the sport come on over and give it a go.
Overseen by Marlene West, Manager of the South Sound Squash Club, along with squash professional Cameron Stafford who are assisted by top junior player Nathan MacLean and senior player Hugo Janse van Rensburg, the programme is a great way to get fit, make friends, and develop a competitive streak.
The Junior programme, which runs from 11th January until 4th April, is taught to each individual’s ability within three categories - bronze, silver and gold - with consideration for age in the bronze category. Bronze meet on Wednesday after school and on Saturday morning, silver meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after school and Saturday morning and gold meet Monday, Tuesday and Thursday after school and later Saturday morning. In addition, there is open play on Friday after school.
Marlene advised that, depending on group level, the young players are taught the all the basics, “from catching a ball or bouncing a ball on the racket all the way through to technique work and tactical match play,” she said.
While there are not any specific tournaments on the agenda right now specifically within the junior squash programme, Marlene advised that they would like to get different match play via traveling to training tournaments or have other Juniors attend the Island to play, but this, she advised, is a “work in progress”.
“The more advanced Junior players will be gearing up towards Junior Caribbean Championships in Bermuda July 2020,” she said.
Marlene said that squash is a great sport with which to become involved, ideally starting at the age of 6 or 7. The advantages to one’s overall health (physical and mental) are numerous, she said.
“It boosts confidence while improving fitness and coordination and there’s the opportunity to socialise with other players as well,” she stated.
Emma Turnbull, 20, joined the junior programme when she was 11 years old, all the way through to 17. She now is the team captain of her university squash team, the University of Newcastle, in England.
During her time on the Junior programme, Emma competed in the Caribbean Area Squash Association’s (CASA) junior championships, representing the Cayman Islands in countries such as Bermuda, Barbados and Guyana.
“Being part of the junior programme helped me on many different levels,” she advised. “It helped turn me into an athlete, ingrained in me a strong determination to keep fit and strong and also helped tremendously to develop my social and communication skills. It also gave me the opportunity to travel across the Caribbean and make friends all over the region. It has also helped shape my approach to the sport now that I’m at university because the completion of the intense CASA events prepared me for level of competition involved with matches at university, playing in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league.”
If you have a young person interested in joining the programme, call South Sound Squash Club on 949-9469 or 526-5052.