Interest in the game is seeing a spike in popularity.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, a little known sport is being served up for a big return.
This sport, which Forbes Magazine once named the healthiest sport in the world, is squash.
Jeff Tulk has played squash for 40 years. He says that over the last three or four years, interest in the sport has really spiked. The Aquarena, which holds 60 players, opened registration for their senior league last Friday; by Sunday it was full.
“The interest is definitely there,” Tulk said. “Now it’s just trying to balance the interest with facility issues.”
Right now, squash isn’t a top sport in the St. John’s area. Because a specially built court is needed to play, it’s not played in schools and is therefore unknown to most kids.
Tulk has been a squash coach at the CBS Recreation Complex for the past three years. He says the best marketing tool squash has to get kids interested are the windows each court has. The courts in the complex are right next to the front desk, so inquisitive children entering the building for their swim class can’t help but take notice of them. He says the sight is likely completely new to most of them.
The program is co-ed, but according to Tulk, it is harder to get girls interested in the sport.
“It’s chicken and egg,” he said. “It’s an issue we need to work on, and we’re trying, but again, it’s capacity.”
Tulk applied for the funding to specifically target girls and get them into the sport, but it wasn’t successful.
“Maybe next year,” he said.
One program offered by the complex is called Early Start, which is for ages six to 10. Bekki Sceviour, whose son Jude, 9, is enrolled in the program, says he found out about squash by coming to the complex for swim lessons.
“He voiced an interest in it,” said Sceviour. “So we looked into it and they gave him a free two-week trial that they offer to kids.”
Sceviour says squash is very affordable for her family, which is another big draw to the sport for parents who want their kids to be active but would struggle to afford the cost of a sport like hockey.
Tulk says the resurgence of squash is happening, but the sport needs more facilities to keep up with the rising demand.
“It’s on a roll, it’s coming back,” Tulk said. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s a great way for people of any age to stay in shape and have fun.”