Squash from the Mosque

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Calder Community Squash is a community-based not-for-profit company, committed to making positive changes through health and well-being. As part of their work in Park Ward, an area of Halifax faced with high levels of social deprivation, they identified a lack of culturally sensitive sporting opportunities. This was particularly evident for South Asian girls and women of the Muslim faith. To address this, the 'Squash from the Mosque' program was born!

‘Squash from the Mosque’ sessions were designed to be accessible, adaptable, and culturally sensitive. They allow participants to improve their physical and mental health through sport while becoming part of a supportive community at Calder Community Squash and Old Crossleyans Squash Club.

Fae Harper-Robinson, Project Coordinator at Calder Community Squash, takes us through the journey from conception to implementation.

Bringing Squash to the Mosque

Our journey in Park Ward began following a conversation with a teacher from the Jamia Madni Mosque with whom we co-designed the ‘Squash from the Mosque’ programme. He wanted to encourage the boys from the Mosque to take up a sport and become part of a sports club. We decided to explore this and began holding sessions from the grounds of the Mosque and a car park in Park Ward.

After this initial outreach program, the boys asked for sessions at the club, with sessions held at convenient times to fit around the Mosque. Many of the boys' fathers who are Pakistani, had a fond appreciation of the game and remembered when Jahangir Khan dominated the sport. Despite living just down the road, most of them didn't know there was a squash club in the area or how to access the game. Soon, some of these men had membership and were playing at the club with their sons.

Squash for Women & Girls

Mothers and fathers then enquired about their daughters and whether we could create a girls-only session. In response, we created culturally sensitive squash sessions for these girls led by a female coach.
As a result of running these sessions the mothers of these children watching from the balcony, began to enquire about a session of their own. They suggested times that would work around a busy family life and Mosque. They also wanted the classes to take place at a quieter time at the club as privacy was important. As well as this, they were interested in gym sessions, and classes on nutrition and diet.

“Women's squash has been a fabulous opportunity to keep fit and engage in physical activity. There are no other schemes like this in my area that I am aware of. It has allowed me to not only play squash (never done before) but meet other women in the local community."

Squash from the Mosque participant

The funding from Active Calderdale has enabled us to run sessions for boys, women and girls for 12 months at Old Crossleyans Squash Club.

The project has been hugely successful and is now in its third year. As a result, we have lots of families who have come through the project and now play regularly at the club as members. In addition, several women have come through the project and taken a funded England Squash course to enable them to lead sessions. As a result, we now have women who coach for us in paid roles on a regular basis.

I found out about the Squash from the Mosque project and was really surprised that I would be able to play squash. Since coming, I have been more active and never thought I would be able to enjoy a sport.

Shahreen - Squash from the Mosque participant

We have learnt a lot in a short period of time. Benefitting our physical and mental health. For some of us, this is the only time we can give ourselves time. Otherwise, as a female, I never give myself priority.

Haleema - Squash from the Mosque participant

National Recognition & The Future

The Squash from the Mosque programme has now been picked up by the sports governing body England Squash and we are working with them to roll the project out nationally. Alongside this, we are moving the project into other sports, with Active Calderdale funding a 'from the Mosque' programme for boxing.

We hope by upskilling participants and engaging National Governing Bodies (NGBs), along with providing a reduced membership fee for the programme's participants, we can ensure the project's continued success within Park Ward and nationally. In addition, we plan to grow the impact of the 'from the Mosque' programme by working with new sports and engaging new NGBs.

If you would like more information about 'Squash at the Mosque', please visit the Calder Community Squash Facebook page or the Old Crossleyans Squash Club website.