Dubai: Hosting the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series Finals at Dubai Opera for the first time from June 6-10 will open a niche sport to new audiences, according to USA Squash chief executive officer Kevin Klipstein.
USA Squash has done similar by staging the Tournament of Champions inside New York’s Grand Central Station since 1995. “Bringing a sport such as squash to where people are already is critical to increasing awareness,” said Klipstein, during a visit to Dubai this week.
“By hosting at Dubai Opera, those who otherwise might not be exposed to the promotion of an international squash showcase event will be exposed to the marketing and may see it for an evening and become a fan.
“With awareness comes interest in trial and then people need access to the sport.”
Klipstein said USA Squash was following the model set by US Tennis in the 1970s when the game became popular thanks to it being pushed in public parks.
“It would be easier to do in the UAE given the smaller geography. National programmes could gain momentum quickly, and there is a rich history of great Arab squash players, particularly Egyptians, that could be leveraged.
“Awareness and access are the key barriers to focus on, this will drive participation if there is good governance supporting the interest generated.
“An important step in the process of building popularity of the sport will be to work closely with the Ministry of Sport in Dubai, and begin to develop programmes that reach out to schools, and connect them with programmes to try the sport at available facilities.”
Dubai signed a three-year agreement to host the World Series Finals from 2016 to 2018. Last year it was held in Burj Park underneath the Burj Khalifa.
“Investing in major events certainly creates an opportunity,” Klipstein added of a legacy. “And from what I’ve seen of Dubai, it does appear the relationships are in place to make a real impact on participation and therefore people’s actual health and well-being.”