Squash is on the rise in regional Victoria and a new inter-town competition will start this month.
Among the 20 teams will be Shepparton/Goulburn Valley Squash-Numurkah, with the club uniting with Numurkah to be part of the inaugural season.
The competition is mixed genders with four players competing for each team.
Play starts on February 25, with matches every four to six weeks and the season to conclude with a grand final in December.
Squash and Racquetball North East Victoria Association spokesman Kevin Quick said a lucky piece of timing allowed the Victorian teams to join with NSW.
‘‘It was a nice coincidence because it covers two states and not too many competitions do that,’’ he said.
‘‘Our organisation had been looking at an inter-town competition and without knowing it, NSW was looking at the same thing.
‘‘A phone call was made and the penny dropped, and we decided to join forces.’’
Goulburn Valley Squash and Racquetball Club president Christian Lecompte said the new competition would fit in well with the club’s direction.
‘‘We’ve been dealing with (the north-east Victoria association) over the last year, looking at junior development and how to grow the sport,’’ he said.
‘‘The competition is all regional clubs and we felt working with the other clubs will create a hub or a nucleus for players.
‘‘There’s inter-town competitions for a lot of sports — football, netball, cricket, soccer and so on — and squash used to have one too.
‘‘The sport has decreased in popularity over time and we’re hoping this will help.’’
Other Victorian squash clubs to field a team include Albury, Benalla, Cohuna, Corowa, Echuca-Moama, Milawa-Beechworth, Wodonga and Yarrawonga-Mulwala.
Quick said with squash’s participation levels on the rise, a family-friendly competition was perfect to see that trend continue.
‘‘There was previously a north-eastern Victorian competition and I understand it was quite popular,’’ he said.
‘‘It eventually died, but it was a different format and on a Friday night; we’ve gone for the more family-friendly approach of Sunday matches and it’s all social with lunches, and everyone gets a hit.
‘‘Squash is having a bit of a revival; statistically in Australia it peaked in the ‘70s and ‘80s with 500000 people playing every week, but since then interest had dropped.
‘‘Squash has never lost its intrinsic appeal, you can play all year round and in rain, hail or shine; that convinces a lot of people to play.’’
He said with Shepparton and Numurkah joining forces for the competition, he expected a strong team.