Squash makes most of Au factor
Squash's popularity has soared in the past decade. 'Thanks to Hong Kong Squash, more than 200 primary schools and 50,000 children have been introduced to a modified version of the sport called mini-squash.
'A lot of successful squash athletes have developed through Hong Kong Squash's Junior Development Feeder System, such as Annie Au Wing-chi, the first Hong Kong player to reach the world top 10,' says Emily Mak, coaching and development manager at Hong Kong Squash (www.hksquash.org.hk).
'Aside from being fun, the benefits for children in learning to play include strengthening eye-hand and body co-ordination, improving concentration and discipline, and fostering team spirit and sportsmanship,' Mak says.
Mini-squash makes use of a soft, spongy ball and shorter racquets that are ideally suited to introducing the game for children aged six to 12.
Hong Kong Squash runs courses during July and August, comprising six two-hour classes and cost HK$140. Basic racquet skills are introduced and eye-hand co-ordination is developed through games-based activities. At the end, all children are invited to test their skills in a mini-squash competition.
Hong Kong Squash runs a mini-squash award scheme in which children can be graded. They receive a badge and certificate as an indication of their skill and to encourage further participation. Hong Kong Squash also seeks to identify future champions through its talent foundation programme which includes courses at elementary, intermediate and skill refinement levels. The cost is the same for each course at HK$200 per child for 10 two-hour classes.
The elementary course covers backhand and forehand strokes and the serve. The intermediate course teaches a variety of strokes, including the drop, lob, volley and boast (making the ball hit the side wall before the front wall) and returning serve.
All courses take place at Leisure and Cultural Services Department courts around the city. Participants must take their own racquets, wear non-marking shoes and are advised to wear protective goggles designed for the game.
The YMCA of Hong Kong (www.ymcahk.org.hk) runs courses based on Hong Kong Squash training schemes all year in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Mini-squash courses cost HK$650 for members and HK$750 for non-members. Courses comprise 10 one-hour classes.
For children aged six to 17, there is the bronze award course in which children are divided into age groups - six to 12, and 13 to 17 years.
The courses cover basic skills such as the grip, serving, ball bouncing and basic strokes. These are the required skills as set down by Hong Kong Squash for its bronze award.
Courses run for 10 90-minute classes and cost HK$970 for members and HK$1,075 for non-members.
At the end of all courses, participants receive a badge and certificate after a free test provided by Hong Kong Squash.