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First ever under 11s squash tournament at New Mills could also be its last

Last Sunday, eight juniors took part in the under 11s squash tournament hosted at New Mills Leisure Centre.

Local and visiting players, coming from Sheffield, Marple and Macclesfield, spent 4 hours competing in front of a crowd of parents, siblings, coaches and grandparents.

The day was rounded off with a presentation ceremony in which children were awarded with sweets donated by Swizzels, squash equipment and medals. The event was the first of its kind at the squash court, but could also be its last.

The squash court is threatened with closure given that High Peak Borough Council have proposed to replace it with a wellness centre. This is despite the fact that the court in New Mills has a 40 year history, two teams playing in the North West Counties League, a burgeoning youth programme and a regular stream of ad hoc users. Any final decisions about the squash court are currently on hold pending a public consultation later this year.

Matthew Thomas, a junior squash coach at New Mills Squash Club, had the idea to organise the event: “It's been brilliant to see the juniors playing today, I'm really proud of how they all played. We created this as a friendly event to get entry level players into squash, there aren't many events like this in the area.  We had juniors from lots of different clubs and they were so engaged and had a great time. I really hope we can continue running events like these in New Mills - they really encourage kids to stay active and support squash in the North West”.

The children gained a lot from participating in the event. Joshua, aged 9, came third overall on the day; “I really enjoyed the tournament, it was my third one. It made me happy that it was at my home squash court in New Mills, where I always have my coaching sessions. It's really nice to see so many people playing squash. I like the way everyone is so happy to play squash.”

Earlier this year 50+ protesters held a demonstration to show their support for keeping the squash court open. Over 1000 people also signed a petition aimed at High Peak Borough Council. 

The council have not made their exact plans for the leisure centre publicly available. However it is understood that they intend to borrow 2.4 million to develop a new wellness centre, fitness studio and a gym extension. Sadly for lovers of sport in New Mills, this would involve removing the squash court and shrinking the sports hall to a size that prohibits a large number of team sports such as basketball, indoor cricket, five-a-side football and netball.

Matthew Thomas says: “We’re really pleased that the council have finally announced a consultation with the people of New Mills - I do hope that they are genuinely in listening mode. It’s surprising that it took them so long to decide to seek the views of real leisure centre users.

This tournament demonstrates just some of the wider enthusiasm for squash that exists in New Mills and beyond. If the council chooses to destroy the squash court there will be nothing like this again in New Mills. I’m making sure young people benefit from the squash court whilst they can.”

For now the people of New Mills are eagerly awaiting a public consultation on this matter, and will be standing united to save New Mills Leisure Centre facilities.


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