Shoppers at The Square Shopping Centre found more than the usual fashion brands and phone shops on Thursday when a temporary ‘high street’ squash and racketball court popped-up in the heart of Birmingham City Centre.

Few could resist the challenge of watching the live action through the shop windows whilst others took up the challenge and grasped a racket for a free introductory coaching session from local professionals, including world number 18 Sarah-Jane Perry.

“That was great fun,” said Neil Walker from Walsall. “I was shopping with my partner and we saw the crowd gathered around the window. When I saw it was sport I just had to have a go. I think the council should make more shops available to sports to do this, it makes sport interesting and accessible to people and it’s not like there aren’t enough empty shops these days.”

Ricky Wilby and his friends Daniel Thornwell and Ross Roberts are all sixth formers at Kings Norton Boys School and jumped at the chance to try racketball. “Brilliant,” said Wilby. “I love all sports but I have never had the chance to try racketball before. You have to move quickly and it tests your reactions, but in a fun way. I got a free voucher for a session and I’ll pay it again.”

16 year old Nikita Pitt from Coleshill was equally enthused “I don’t play much sport but when you see how fit and toned the players are, it makes you think about playing a bit more.”

The Big Hit Campaign is a national programme by England Squash & Racketball which takes over redundant retail space and creates a temporary squash academy to put a racket in the hand of the shopping public. The latest ‘pop-up’ squash shop is at The Square Shopping Centre and is open until Saturday July 13 (11am – 6pm). Passersby will also be able to snap up vouchers for free sessions at clubs and leisure centre’s across the city.

Steve Amos, Head of Development at England Squash & Racketball, said: “We want customers to walk out of a clothing store and straight into a ‘squash shop’ for a quick taster session – and to learn the fun and health benefits that you can have with a squash racket and a ball.”

Paul Watkins, Manager of The Square Shopping Centre, said: “I am delighted to welcome The Big Hit. It is an excellent opportunity for the local community, shoppers and commuters to try their hand at a fun activity. I hope the experience will encourage more people to take up this exciting sport at their local leisure centre.”