Squash Proves a Big Hit in Australian mining towns
Australia’s mining sector has spurred massive growth in many areas, and now squash is taking its turn on the growth court as more and more miner workers take up the sport as a means of improving their health, fitness and mental alertness. Indeed, squash as a sport is on the rebound as mining companies and mine camp operators across regional Australia recognise the benefits of the game in helping mine workers to improve their stamina, speed, agility and fitness.
“Squash is not only giving mine workers a health boost, but the sport is also delivering tangible benefits to the bottom lines of the mining companies,” says Todd Bowden, director of squash court developer Blu Project Management. “That’s because mine workers who play squash can quickly improve their fitness and general health, which is translating into lower lost-time-injuries at many mine sites. Core strength injuries are the biggest cause of injury at mine sites, and it has been demonstrated that squash players have a higher core strength and are therefore less prone to back strain.”
Mr Bowden, a former squash professional who in the past worked with senior business leaders and corporations in the United States to develop squash programs for their employees, says regional Australian communities are now benefitting from the development of squash courts by mining operators.
“It has taken Australia a while to catch up with the US, but finally our companies are also recognising that the game of squash is actually a workforce solution. And, beyond the mine workers themselves, there are enormous flow-on benefits from having a squash court complex in regional communities as well. In areas such as Western Australia, for example, we are doing a lot of work with indigenous people and communities by introducing them to the game of squash.
“On a recent trip to Kununurra, the indigenous people there showed a very keen interest in the sport and wanted to play more and more. This is great for their health and now they many indigenous people are wanting to set up programs in this region to facilitate this enthusiasm.
“Having a squash club and courts is a community asset that can be used by adults and children alike, and we have established squash leagues in many regional areas as a means of building strong community franchises.”
Mr Bowden says that a key benefit of squash on a commercial level is that it is very time efficient, and mine workers are able to achieve a full workout from 30 minutes of intensive exercise on a court.
“Another benefit for companies is that setting up a squash complex is relatively inexpensive, and they can be used for other fitness activities like basketball, aerobics and yoga when courts are not being used,” Mr Bowden adds.
“On-site squash programs also allow miners to interact with all employees and with miners on other camps, giving them positive interaction which builds teamwork. Miners work long hours and often forget to spend time on their health, so the ability to participate in a time-efficient sport while they are away from home also allows them to spend more quality time with their families when they are at home instead of trying to catch up on their health.”