Stating that the association appreciated the kindness of its current benefactors, Cumberbatch said that the real issue came down to court time, especially for national team training.
“The Barbados Squash Association needs a home. We jump between the Barbados Squash Club and the Pleasant Place Squash Club, but in truth and actual fact we really need courts,” he said.
Going on to speak about the expectations and stellar performances of local players in regional and international tournaments, Cumberbatch noted that the players could achieve a lot more if they had access to more court-time.
“The juniors that we have here are performing at a high level, but clearly they are not enough facilities for them to use. They are practising a maximum of two hours a day. If you want to be a world-class player and compete with the world-class athletes, you need to be practising at least four hours a day, and unfortunately, we don’t have those courts available.”
Stating that they were currently negotiating the lease of a warehouse from Kensington Oval Management Inc. (KOMI), he revealed that there were plans to share the space with another sporting organisation.
“We are looking to install three glass-back squash courts in that facility, and to create a multi-sporting complex where we will have not only squash, but other sporting disciplines as well. We think these courts would provide an excellent opportunity for our national teams, both the senior and junior teams, to play unlimited, because the courts would belong to the association.
“So we would not have to pay anybody for them and we would not have limited time, and what ever time is required for the national teams, we would make it available,” Cumberbatch explained.
Noting that there were quite a few primary and secondary schools in close proximity, Cumberbatch said that the new facility would give the association an opportunity to broaden its player base.
“We believe that a facility like this would not only enhance our players, but give us an opportunity to broaden the squash base. People say all the time that squash is an elitist sport and the wider community doesn’t get a chance to play. So these facilities that we are looking to establish will be taking squash into the communities, bringing in the schools and we believe it will afford us to get a wider catchment of athletes.”
With squash shortlisted as one of the eight new sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Cumberbatch explained that the focus was now on attracting as many young players as possible, and that the facility would go a long way towards ensuring the future of the sport locally.
“We have a junior development programme that is run by a select committee, but that is one day a week. If we can get into the schools and the wider community and we can double and triple that effort, and we have out own facility, we can have a programme that runs every evening.
“But to encourage the schools and to get them involved, we intend to actually go out to the schools and make presentations to the P.E. teachers and get them involved. and use transportation from the National Sports Council or the Barbados Olympic Association to move the children from the respective schools to the club to train during their P.E. times and take them back. Hopefully, they will fall in love with the game and want to play in the Junior Squash Development Programme. We really want to go after the juniors in a big way,” he said. (MP)