Gender parity at ESF coaching course is

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Gender parity at ESF coaching course is "really good sign for squash"

Portugal's Catarina Nunes says it is a "really good sign for squash" that last weekend's WSF Level 2 coaching course run by the ESF had an equal gender balance of learners for the first time.

Seven men and seven women (including Catarina) from seven different countries participated in the four-day ESF course run by Michael Khan and Jan Roll at the Squash Zentrum Hastal in Prague. It was the first time that an ESF course at any level had gender parity.

The coaches took part in lectures and practical sessions including live on-court sessions with local players. Next, they will complete post-course assignments with their own players and submit written documentation of four lessons before being approved and certified.

Catarina (pictured above) said: "I enjoyed the course so much! At my club, I see more women willing to try squash and now more are clearly wanting to be coaches too. It means we are doing something to attract more females. It's comforting that the sport is evolving.

“Having a female role model as a coach is important for women and girls. A lot of female players feel less comfortable being coached by a man and playing against men. I see a lot of difference at my club because I attract more women to train with me, simply because I'm a woman.”

Catarina coaches three days a week at Prorackets Squash & Padel in Porto as well as training and competing on the PSA World Tour. The 25-year-old is nine-time Portuguese champions and currently world No.152. She has ambitions of reaching the top 50 and representing Portugal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

Catarina, who says she is one of only two female squash coaches in Portugal, wants to be the best she can be at both her playing and coaching roles. That's what motivated her to enrol on the ESF Level 2 course. She says the experience was enriching and enjoyable.

"When I started coaching, I loved the idea of sharing your passion for squash with other people," she says. "But as I coached more, I felt I needed more knowledge so I can help my players develop more. I was using the same exercises that I do as a player, but I didn't know why.

"I really enjoyed this course because I understood why I was doing the exercises and it made a lot of sense to me. It gave us an in-game perspective, teaching our players to do the right shots in the right situations when the opportunity comes.

“Travelling for the course was a good experience. I shared a room with another coach and we all had dinner with the other coaches, shared our thoughts and discussed what we did during the day. If I had done the course in Portugal I'd just go home afterwards and wouldn't get those knowledge sharing opportunities.”

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