By Morissa Lindsay
The Barbados Squash Association (BSA) is looking to get back up and running post-Covid-19 under the leadership of newly installed president Norman Rice who said that his committee has several things in the pipeline.
Rice who replaced immediate past president Kim Jebodhsingh in December, explained that Barbados has a busy schedule this year with the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) junior and senior competitions as well as the Central American and Caribbean Championship.
Junior CASA will run from July 9th to 17th in Guyana, followed by senior CASA in Jamaica from August 21st to 28th while CAC will be held prior to that from July 28th to August 8th in England.
Serving in the capacity as President of the BSA for the first time, Rice believes that the national teams once announced in a short space of time has a good chance of doing well.
He said this optimism was especially so due to the presence and guidance of England-born international coach Aidan Harrison who resides in the United States.
Rice noted that Harrison began working with the national players in May and expressed that the new coach’s focus will be the final preparation for upcoming competitions, especially the doubles which is also part of the Commonwealth Games.
“We were actually very proactive in terms of all these tournaments from August last year when we started preparing.
“We had an international coach who was not able to return after his first stint but we went out and got another coach who is a British national based in the United States. He is a former coach in the United States and the British junior team and he is a professional player and has good experience,” Rice told Barbados TODAY.
As president, Rice would like to see squash returned competitively and unrestricted, given that the pandemic has put a damper on the association’s junior programs.
“Because of the COVID restrictions we haven’t gotten to run our junior program which normally takes place on Saturday. But that junior program suffered badly from the shutdown and we actually only started back a few weeks ago at the Barbados Defence Force in small numbers.
“So, hopefully, as the year goes on, we will be able to go back to our usual numbers but there is still a hindrance out there for sport at that level,” he said.
Going forward, Rice is hoping to forge a better partnership with the Barbados Squash Club.
“That is the intention of the committee but we must bear in mind that we don’t have unlimited access to the club but hopefully going forward we will work together. That is our goal to build a relationship going forward but that is a work in progress.”
Given the nature of squash, Rice expressed that the committee must be mindful of how they go forward especially with the junior program in order to comply with the COVID Unit mandate.
“The interest is there, we just have to manage it differently. It is not like volleyball or soccer or cricket being in the open.
:We have different things to consider and we wouldn’t want to have a tournament and all of a sudden there is an outbreak. So, we will try to manage that return as best as possible based on the type of sports we are,” Rice explained.
As the new head, Rice wants to see squash develop in a way that would increase the sport’s membership, especially female participation.
“My vision is for the squash association to have its own home where we can run our own programs on a larger scale.
“Also, taking squash into the communities by developing an inter-club program that would feed into the national team. I would also like to see an inter-club as well as a women’s program to attract mothers and daughters to the sport to increase the level of female participation,” he outlined.