Team USA’s Marina Stefanoni has been selected as one of eight international players to participate in SquashFORWARD, a joint initiative announced by the World Squash Federation and Professional Squash Association.
The program brings together eight top young squash players (four young women and four young men), all under twenty-three years old, with the aim to actively engage with the next generations and shape the future of squash as a vibrant and healthy sport. Symbolically, the announcement comes on the eve of the Olympic Day, which is envisioned to encourage young people to move, learn and discover new sports.
The SquashFORWARD members selected from across the world each bring her or his own perspective on the future of their sport as ambassadors of thousands of young players internationally. The development follows on from the announcement made by WSF president Jacques Fontaine in April 2018 in Bangkok during the SportAccord Convention.
Stefanoni, from Darien, Connecticut, has won the past three U.S. Junior Championships GU19 title at just fifteen years old. Stefanoni is already ranked No. 77 in the world professionally and is the youngest member of the SquashFORWARD lineup.
Victor CROUIN (France, 18 y.o)
Diego ELIAS (Peru, 21 y.o)
Nour EL SHERBINI (Egypt, 22 y.o)
Eain Yow NG (Malaysia, 20 y.o)
Marina STEFANONI (United States, 15 y.o)
Dimitri STEINMANN (Switzerland, 20 y.o)
Nadiia USENKO (Ukraine, 18 y.o)
Satomi WATANABE (Japan, 19 y.o)
The group will meet regularly over the next few months to share their vision of the sport and discuss how to make the game even more innovative, inclusive and sustainable than it is today.
SquashFORWARD will kick off its activity at the Dutch Junior Open, which will be held in Amsterdam on July 12th-15th. Members of the initiative will host a focus group with junior players from all over the world and gather their ideas focusing on four major topics: innovation, sustainability, inclusiveness and accessibility. SquashFORWARD will analyze the ideas in the weeks that will follow the tournament and turn them into a set of practical recommendations.
It is envisioned that SquashFORWARD will share their findings and forward-looking recommendations during the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games in October where squash will be present as a showcase sport.
WSF President Jacques Fontaine said: “SquashFORWARD is an initiative truly driven by the youngest stars of squash, many of whom dream one day to become Olympic champions. I’m sure this programme will create new thought leaders and help our sport remain at the forefront of what young people seek today from a sport that matches their lifestyles and aspirations.”
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough added: “One of the core missions of squash is to provide access to sport to young people all around the world. In dialogue with young players on the SquashFORWARD group we can ensure that we do it in the best possible way.”