CHENNAI: No handshakes, no sharing of water bottles, no water fountain at the club. Use your own towel to wipe sweat. Use your own ball and racket. No wiping of hands on walls. These are some of the guidelines issued by the World Squash Federation (WSF) for restarting the sport after the coronavirus pandemic.
The aim of the recommendations, as stated by the world body, is to prepare clubs to reopen for non-competitive play as soon as it is permitted. With the WSF suspending all tour events till July, the Squash Racket Federation of India (SRFI) does not see competitions being held for the next two-three months.
The WSF’s potential roadmap for resumption states four phases. The first is ‘limited opening’ where only one player per court is allowed. Use of changing facilities and showers at the club will not be allowed and players should arrive no more than 15 minutes before schedule and leave immediately after playing. The second phase will have some relaxation in terms of two-player routines. Coaching will be allowed and change rooms will be opened.
The third phase is aimed at broadening the number and interaction of players. It will be based on the success of the first two phases. In the fourth and final phase, match play and group coaching will be allowed, but non-members will not be permitted to the court.
“These are basic procedures which they have given us to follow. Depending on the city, club, and facility it is happening in, we will look at going from phase one to four. This is something which people could follow after we get the go-ahead to open the facilities,” said Cyrus Poncha, SRFI secretary-general.“But we do not see competitions happening at least for the next few months. That is evident right now due to the prevailing situation.”
The SRFI is yet to finalise its own SOP but the guidelines for reopening facilities might vary from state to state. They might begin with limiting one player per court in severely-hit states and relax the conditions in states that are better off in terms of controlling the pandemic.
“If the condition is severe in a state, we will have one player on the court at a time. Once things get a bit better, then, maybe, two at a time (will be allowed). Then start drills and routines,” explained the formal national coach.
“For example, if Tamil Nadu says we can resume from June 1, we will slowly start opening courts. In Mumbai, I don’t think clubs will open in the next three months. It is looking so bad. Each city will have to get their own permission to start. It could start in one city and not in another.”