Joburg Masters Squash Players,
03 February 2022
Joburg Masters Squash has concluded another successful year. As we complete the first full season post COVID-19, and the various accommodations we’ve had to make in our fixtures, tournaments and daily lives.
Our committee continues to actively navigate a continuously changing environment ensuring player safety, fixtures, continuity and fiscal rigor. We can proudly state that our mandate toward the members remains true and secure during these adjusted playing conditions.
Masters Leagues (Thursdays)
The JMS Masters league returned on Thursdays from 18 March. 2021 saw 5 leagues and the hosting of 39 teams. Whilst we faced fewer leagues than the 2019 season, it included a consolidated league with sufficient teams to ensure a competitive and viable league season.
League matches had to be suspended in June and July 2021, due to the pandemics’ third wave, but games were restarted in August. The final matches were completed by the end of October. Player safety remained a priority at all times, for the Committee our Squash SA directed COVID protocols were enforced. Encouragingly this prompted a number of creative solutions from within the committee and suggestions from host clubs, such as splitting venues (thereby ensuring the leagues could continue).
Unfortunately, JMS First League did not provide the depth we’ve seen in previous years, with only five teams entering. Randburg Squash entered three teams, for which we are very grateful in allowing the league to take place. Player numbers became a predictable challenge through the season (COVID waves, illness, holidays and player fitness/fatigue and interest all playing a role). The committee will look at changing the format of the First League in 2022, with options including a Box League (individual participation, that is scored per club and individually) under consideration.
The 2021 JMS League Survey generated numerous constructive suggestions (October 2021), which will be considered and assessed in the context of the various leagues and venues.
2021, once again saw the cancelling of a number of Masters Tournaments, including: SA Masters Closed (Parkview), JMS Masters Open, SA Masters IPT singles (Pietermaritzburg) and SA Masters IPT Doubles (Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth); and World Masters (Poland). We did, however, manage to host three very successful JMS Doubles fundraising tournaments throughout the year. These proved to be very popular, and we will continue to run these tournaments in 2022, with the aim of hosting four events in 2022.
Although JMS membership subscriptions have seen a moderate reduction of 13% year-on-year (with approximately 220 active members); a move to the SportyHQ platform to administer leagues and tournaments has ensured that expenses are contained and JMS remains financially sound (including a saving generated by not paying online league hosting and management fees to the previous provider).
We can expect more players to return to a regular squash season in 2022, as vaccination rates improve and the various risk factors (fourth wave, financial security of members etc.) settle into a more managed state.
2022 AGM and Committee Members
I, sitting Chairman, will stand down from this position, effective the 2022 AGM. I feel that the opportunity to take the federation forward to greater successes is best served by a group of members based locally and able to engage actively with clubs and players.
We wish to extend a special thanks to our venues, venue controllers, COVID officers and club committees for all the hard work. Their tireless efforts made sure hygiene protocols and a safe playing environment were in place for our members.
A special mention to Linda Shannon, who has only worked tirelessly in her role as secretary under the most trying two seasons (2020 and now 2021). She keeps getting things done, people informed and accommodates the countless changes that our players, leagues and clubs throw at her last minute. That over and above participating and co-organising the bulk of our tournaments. You’ve rolled with the late family meetings and adapted the rules countless times, ready for each fixture and fielded thousands of questions. We are very grateful for the role you continue to play with Joburg Masters.
Lastly, to the players – you have weathered an extreme two years and shown patience and support to our organisers. The game has remained strong and robust. Our passions on and off court are intact, and we can honestly say that as we move into 2022, the foundation of what we’ve achieved together here will become the foundation to our future successes.
Thank you to the JMS Committee and well done, under especially difficult conditions.
Joburg Masters Squash | 2021 Committee
Paul S Vermaak