Robert wins squash’s young coach of the year accolade

Robert Thirst coaching youngsters.

Robert Thirst coaching youngsters. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk’s Robert Thirst has been crowned by England Squash as Young Coach of the Year at the National Squash Championships in Manchester.

The judging panel was made up of Gayle Pink, Workforce Development Manager at England Squash, Tom Duggan, Performance Director at England Squash, Paul Main, England Squash National Forum Representative, Paul Hulme, Sport Strategy Manager at Manchester City Council, and Lucy Johnson, Marketing Director at Polar.

Robert was nominated for: “His progress and determination to promote squash, particularly among children, which provides a role model for other young people looking at a career in squash and shows him to be an excellent ambassador for the sport.”

Robert was invited to the awards ceremony which took place at the National Squash Championships in Manchester on Saturday.

Since being introduced to playing squash at school, Robert has been actively playing and representing Norfolk, Robert studied sport at Paston College and in 2016 became a Norfolk County Scholar for achieving the highest grades in the county. As part of his course he had elected to introduced children to squash by purchasing his own nets and rackets, and going into schools on days off to take mini-squash.

Debora Gillespie, the PE lead at Stalham Academy said: “I was very impressed with his enthusiasm for the sport and how well he managed the pupils. The pupils responded well to his teaching and they all enjoyed the sessions and how their skills developed.I would definitely recommend Robert to coach or teach squash to primary school pupils.”

Robert decided that he wanted to make squash his career and successfully qualified as Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 England coach while still only 17. He also took on refereeing and has already become a county grade referee. At weekends he also helped coach children at Broadland Sports Club to start playing squash, including his 10-year-old sister Jasmine, who became Norfolk U11 Girls Champion.

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Robert was subsequently appointed as assistant squash programme director at Broadland Sports Club.