“Famous Five” set up Independent Squash Minds
Five of the biggest names in squash have joined together to produce a think tank aimed at supporting long term positive change through collaboration, insight and diverse experience to reverse the wane in squash’s fortunes.
Headed by former world top-20 ranked player and arguably the game’s foremost elite coach Rob Owen, Independent Squash Minds includes arguably Britain’s greatest ever male player Nick Matthew OBE, former women’s world champion Laura Massaro MBE, one-time World #2 Peter Marshall and leading tournament promoter Danny Lee.
ISM is determined to be a force for good in a sport that once boasted over four million regular players in the UK at its zenith in the 1980s but has in recent years found its fortunes greatly diminished.
“In the past the game had an exciting sexy image as a social, trendy, must do health kick that was accessible to all and relatively easy to play at a basic level.
“ Although the sport has grown in a few countries such as the USA and Egypt sadly, the popularity of squash globally has gradually waned over the last three decades and we are deeply concerned for the future of squash.
“The onset of the COVID- 19 pandemic has cast a demoralising shadow over the sport and many people’s lives and 2020 was a year of devastation but also a period of reflection and the creation of ideas which were given time to breathe and germinate.
“As such I decided to form Independent Squash Minds, a collective of passionate former professionals, all brilliant at playing the sport but who also have an enormous diversity of expertise in many of the facets that make up the sport as a whole.
“Nick Matthew OBE is a three-time World Champion who now coaches young professionals at his academy in Sheffield. He also combines that work with various advisory roles as well as his extensive charity work as a patron for Sheffield’s Children Hospital and St Luke’s Hospice.
“Laura Massaro MBE also achieved the ultimate goal of World Champion and won numerous major titles during an illustrious career as well as recently publishing an insightful and fascinating autobiography about her career.
“Both Laura and Nick are recently retired from playing but share a deep knowledge and affection for squash alongside an overwhelming enthusiasm to give back to the sport that gave them so much.
“Obviously I am delighted that the two former world number ones were keen to join ISM and also that ex-world number two Peter Marshall, who is now a successful city business executive, has aligned with us and that former World top -30 player turned coach and leading promoter Danny Lee has completed our quintet.”
Former women’s world No.1 Massaro has no doubt that ISM can help make a difference to the sport that made her a household name.
“I am really excited to be part of this group of like-minded people that all have one aim in common. I know how hugely passionate we all are about the game of squash and the growth and development of the sport we love.
“I realised immediately the ISM was something that had enormous potential to make a difference and I can’t wait to get started and see what impact we can make.”
The ISM has already met twice to discuss their varied aims and objectives across all areas of the sport.
The mission statement “Supporting long term positive change through collaboration, insight and diverse experience“ succinctly explains the group’s vision.
Owen stresses that the ISM will at all times endeavor to be non confrontational, unbiased, independent and considerate in their dealings although some toughness and dexterity may be necessary to instigate the changes that are clearly needed.
The squash world would be wise to embrace the ISM’s enthusiasm and involvement. If anyone is going to instigate change it will surely be the ISM collective.