In a much-anticipated sporting event, 180 players are poised to assemble on the squash courts of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, for the inaugural edition of the John Hett Sports Foundation (JHSF) Squash Championship, set to unfold from October 25 to 28.
Sola Adekunle, Chairman of the Yellow Dot Squash Association, announced this exciting development during a press conference on Monday. He highlighted the significance of the event, saying, “This is the first tournament that will endeavour to bridge the gap between male and female prize money. For the first time, both male and female winners will receive the same prize money.”
The tournament has received official sanction from the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and the World Squash Federation (WSF), adding to its prestige. Adekunle further revealed the prize distribution for both male and female participants, stating that the overall winner will take home N400,000, the second-place finisher will receive N200,000, and the third and fourth-place winners in both categories will be awarded N120,000 each. He also detailed the payouts for players progressing through the rounds, with N70,000 for those reaching the Quarter Finals, N30,000 for the Round of 16, and N20,000 for the Round of 32.
Wasiu Bello, President of the Professional Squash Players Association of Nigeria (PSPAN) and the Technical Director of the tournament expressed his optimism about the JHSF Squash Championship, stating, “This is one tournament that is particularly concerned about the players.” He praised the tournament’s unique approach to prize money distribution, emphasising that every qualifying round guarantees a prize, regardless of the amount. Bello added, “It’s an open tournament, so it doesn’t matter the age of a player. As PSPAN’s president, it is important that we expose our players to PSA and WSF-approved tournaments to improve their world ranking.”
Seun Peters, the pioneer president of PSPAN, urged players to exemplify good sportsmanship on the squash court. He emphasised that skill alone does not define a great player; it’s their conduct on the court. Peters underlined the significance of representing the sport professionally, especially with squash’s inclusion in the Olympics.
The top-ranked male player, Onaopemipo Adegoke, expressed his eagerness for the upcoming tournament, saying, “I know this will be a good tournament, and I look forward to giving it my all as always.”
However, the second-ranked female player, Busayo Olatunji, conveyed her unavailability for the tournament due to personal reasons. She wished her fellow competitors well, saying, “I need time to take care of myself; I know it will be a great tournament, so I’d be cheering them on; may the best man and woman win.”