An insight into the world of squash with Lauren Selby
So we thought we’d do a quick interview with one of our coaches and Director of Coaching at Off The Wall Squash, Lauren Selby. She’s a hugely experienced coach, ex-professional player and huge ambassador for getting more girls and women into the sport. Lauren has recently been nominated for the Active Essex Coach of the Year Award. We’re incredibly proud of her and hope parents and players out there can be inspired by her words.
How and when did you start playing squash?
Did you feel pressured to play by your parents?
It’s a well known fact that there’s a huge drop out of girls playing sport generally, not just squash, around the age of 14-15 when boys and studies start to play a bigger part in their lives. How do you think we get over this as a sport?
This is a problem which I can fully relate to. When I was around 14/15 years old I had a meltdown and decided to call it quits. I had a really bad loss at a major tournament and went to pieces. I was sick of going away every weekend whilst my friends were at home having fun. Little did I realise that many of my friends wished they could travel around the country playing sport to a high level. The grass is always greener right? I didn’t start playing again until I was about 18, 4 years out of the game is a long time in terms of squash development. I often question whether it was a big mistake or not. If I had carried on would I have achieved more success in my professional career because I wasn’t playing catch up? If I had carried on would I have ended up losing heart later on down the line? Questions I will never know the answers to but also, I now realise, a waste of time to ponder on.
Squash is more difficult because friends are also competitors. Having said that I made some wonderful friends on the WSA (Women’s Squash Association) world tour despite those people being my rivals. I think we have to build communities around sport, try not to leave girls feeling isolated and encourage the social aspect within a sporting environment.
Why did you choose to continue to play squash as your career?
What support networks are there for girls and young women to continue the sport as a profession? Do you think improvements can be made?
Do you think there are enough female role models in the sport to encourage girls, and motivate them to see what they could also achieve?
It’s almost like I knew the next question! I think there are plenty of female role models in squash. The women and girls on the world circuit are the ultimate professionals. They are fit,strong, healthy, disciplined, approachable and fair. They are the type of women the next generation need to be inspired by. Unfortunately these female role models do not get enough media exposure so are only role models to the few rather than the masses. I want young girls to realise you can have a balance. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up and putting on make-up but there’s also nothing wrong with getting sweaty and being competitive.