50 years of the ESF: highlights from our first half-century!

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50 years of the ESF: highlights from our first half-century!

The European Squash Federation has come a long way since its inception in 1973, when 10 countries competed in the inaugural Men's European Team Championship. Now, 50 years later, we have 46 Member Nations and thriving competitive circuits that operate all year round, as well as coaching and refereeing departments.

Here, we look at the most significant developments through the ESF's first half-century, with help from squash's premier historian (and former WSF CEO) Andrew Shelley, creator of the Squash Library.

1973: The European Squash Rackets Federation (ESRF) was founded on 27 April 1973, during the inaugural Men’s European Team Championships (ETC). The Championships were staged in Edinburgh, with ten nations competing: Belgium, England, Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Ireland, Monaco, Scotland, Sweden and Wales.

The Federation’s first elected officers were: Chairman Lennart Iepsen (Sweden), Vice-Chairmen Aris Vatimbella (Monaco) & Lou Zandvliet (Netherlands). Secretary Peter Woods (England). Treasurer Robert Dolman (Wales).

1978: A women’s team championship (three people per team, as opposed to five for men) began. 

1980: In a huge shock, England's men lose the ETC for the first time – to Sweden. England had won the first seven ETC titles, beating Scotland in the first five finals and Sweden in the next two. 

1980: The European Club Championships begin, contested by Member Federations' men’s and women’s club champions. The inaugural event was played in Stuttgart, Germany but the next event wasn’t held until 1989 in Luxembourg.

1983: The first Junior Team Championship (mixed) is held in Ludwigsburg, Germany with an U19 age group. 

1984: The European 'Champion of Champions' event is founded in Brussels. The event ceased after 1997. 

1986: The European Open begins in Munich, but ceases after the fifth staging in 1992.

1988: The Junior Individual U19 Championships begin.

1989: A Small Nations Championship is instituted in Cyprus, which enabled smaller and new member countries to host international events. It featured countries such Andorra, Cyprus, Malta, Hungary, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. It was held until 2009, when the teams were integrated into ETC Division 3 in 2011 (programme cover above is for 1992 edition). 

1990: The Men’s & Women’s European Closed begins, although it has a hiatus between 1993-2004

1991: An Under-16 team championship begins (changing to U17 in 1999)

1997: ‘Rackets’ was dropped from the ESF's name, thus re-naming the organisation the European Squash Federation (ESF).

2001: The European Under-15 team championship begins

2010: Netherlands win the women’s ETC, breaking England’s 32-year run of victories since the event started.

2011: ETC Division 3 begins.

2018: The ESF votes in its first female-majority board at its AGM in Wroclaw. Rosie Barry (Ireland), Hugo Hannes (Belgium) and Thomas Troedsson (Sweden) were elected to join existing Vice-President Jackie Robinson and President Zena Wooldridge OBE (both of England).

2022: Thomas Troedsson of Sweden is elected the ESF's ninth President - see all previous presidents above

2022: The ESF hold its first ever Squash Think Tank in Bucharest, gathering some of the sport's best minds together to seek solutions to grow squash

Here's to the next 50 years and the growth of our proud Olympic sport!

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