A sport to make space for

In her regular sports column Bobbie Makoni takes a swing at squash

E17 Squash Academy

E17 Squash Academy’s Vicky te Velde and Adrian Anderson

A secret gem of Walthamstow’s sports scene is Walthamstow Cricket, Tennis and Squash Club.

Because it’s a multi-sports club I wanted to delve deeper into each of the sporting programmes that make up the club, the volunteers that keep them ticking over, and the many reasons it’s known as a ‘local treasure’.

I start with the newest and fastest growing sport within the club; squash. It is thought squash was invented at Harrow School back in the 1800s when the boys discovered that a ball which ‘squashed’ on impact with a wall produced a game with a greater variety of shots.

The sport has since developed into an activity accessible to people from all walks of life, and the E17 Squash Academy in Greenway Avenue is testament to this.

While the club has a strong competitive offering – both the men’s and women’s teams play in the Essex League – committee member Vicky te Velde emphasises the importance of increasing participation in the sport across all levels: “As a club we really want to reach out to those in the community who are not taking part in any level of physical activity.”

As well as increasing the number of active adults across the borough, Vicky is passionate about increasing youth uptake. This summer she founded the Junior Squash Academy, a programme aimed at getting more five to 19-year-olds to pick up the sport.

Vicky hopes keeping fees low will eliminate the financial barriers which have prevented people from taking up squash in the past.

E17 Squash Academy boasts five coaches and enjoys a close relationship with organising body England Squash, who not only provide funding but also supply professional player mentors. Vicky also champions #SquashGirlsCan – an England Squash initiative aimed at improving female participation in the sport through free beginner courses.

At the Waltham Forest Feel Good Sports Awards in November, Vicky was named ‘volunteer of the year’. A well deserved honour.

Walthamstow Cricket, Tennis and Squash Club is hosting a Christmas party, in conjunction with community group Wood Street First, on 17th December from 5pm at 48 Greenway Avenue Tickets are £4 advance. For more information on E17 Squash Academy:

Follow @SquashE17