Breath Of Fresh Air

by SquashPlayer

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Price Racket Balls



Martin Bronstein talks to England Squash Area Manger Justyn Price who has been given National Responsibility for Racketball.

Justyn Price has packed a lot of sport into his 24-year life. Not only as an elite athlete, but also on the other side of the fence – administration. To some people administration is dirty word, but listening to Price talking about his life over the last ten years gives the word a new lustre.

He started with Southampton Football Club, where he learned the importance of marketing (a skill woefully lacking in British sport) and working with the community. After three years he knew that he wanted to spend his working life in sport administration and realised that in order to achieve that goal he would have to go to university. So he left Southampton and enrolled at Durham University, three years later graduating with an honours degree in Sport in the Community.

There followed a spell in badminton and then, at the start of 2007, he joined England Squash as an Area Squash Manager. And what an area – nothing less than the 33 London boroughs and the Home Counties surrounding them. His remit was pretty extensive, too:

“My job is to encourage and enable more people to play squash and racketball,” he says simply. But what that job entails is endless programmes and initiatives, an enormous amount of travel around southern England and more late nights than he cares to admit.

“Last week, I had a meeting on Monday night, a conference on Tuesday night and another meeting on Wednesday night. On Thursday I managed to get home [a house he shares in Winchester with his fiancée, Felicity, a trainee solicitor] by seven,” he recounts, candidly admitting that the constant driving is not one of his pleafont size="2" face="Verdana" color="#000080">As if the meetings and the programmes are not enough to fill his week, Price has to write and produce a weekly newsletter, which, according to his brief, “will include England Squash news, tournament entry forms, club news … advise about local authority funding oppor-tunities and training courses …”). Price will also help organisers with graded events as well as exhibition matches and local roadshows. And somehow he finds time one evening a week to coach juniors, inventing all sorts of games (points earned on length and targets, for example) to keep the kids involved and enthusiastic.

Price travels around with a huge sports bag full of squash and racketball rackets, balls, and other training equipment in his left hand; in the right, he carries a bulging laptop case containing –in addition to his laptop – all his paperwork relating to ongoing projects. Whatever information you want, whatever query comes up, Price has it on his laptop, which goes wherever he goes.

And what of racketball? I lived in North America when racketball made its appearance (played on special court with no tin) and saw it rocket to huge popularity (it was played on a Perspex court before squash was) and then just as quickly virtually die out, the courts being adapted to squash usage. I was less than impressed when England Squash embraced racketball. Price responded to my jaundiced view with his usual intelligent enthusiasm.

“I’ve worked as a personal trainer and a speed, agility and quickness trainer and in many other areas of sport; There are many new ways in which to package a sport. The average person has a stereotyped view of squash, but if you mention racketball people say, “They play that in America, don’t they?” There’s no pre-conceived image. So we have a sport that we can market and frame as whatever we want. It could be the ideal alternative to aerobics, a daytime activity when squash courts aren’t being used. It could be the winter game instead of squash when the cold yellow-dot ball isn’t bouncing. It could be the ideal sport for companies wanting to arrange lunchtime social sessions. Racketball is a great leveller: you can put a good squash player on court with someone willing to run and they would have a great time,” he says, adding, “Squash and racketball appeal to different people. There’s always daytime availability of courts, so why not use that time to make money and bring in a whole new group of people?”

Justyn Price came into squash less than a year ago and has embraced it fully. There is nothing false or obsequious about his enthusiasm. He recently travelled to New York to take part in the Derek Sword Trophy, paying his own fare to play for the London team again the New York team.

Journalist Alan Thatcher, who was the driving force behind that tournament (Sword was a Scot who lost his life in the 9/11 disaster) and is chairman of the Kent SRA, which falls within Price’s area, dropped his journalistic cynicism when asked about Price.

“He’s a breath of fresh air, full of commitment, ideas and passion. With his help we’ve put in a massive Mini Squash programme involving hundreds

of schools. And it’s working,” Thatcher enthuses.


‘It is obvious that the challenge of getting people to participate in sport  is one that he feels is worthwhile’

Price carries a sports bag in one hand and a laptop in the other

Justyn Price in discussion with David Peck of Colets in Thames Ditton, England's Men’s Club Champions
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