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January 12, 2015

Pakistan squash lags behind spirited India


January 12, 2015

KARACHI: Indian squash moved up to new heights in 2014 while Pakistan dropped to new lows, which shows there is a need of a strong personality to help this game so that the country might regain its prestige in international arena.
Indian players won gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year, but Pakistan couldn’t even reach the semi-finals stage in Asian Games despite being the defending champions.
Pakistan did not participate in the Commonwealth Games due to the existence of two groups claiming to be the national Olympic association.
In individual category at Asian Games, Pakistan’s Farhan Mehboob and Nasir Iqbal lost in the early rounds, while India’s Saurave Ghosal was the finalist. Pakistan’s performance at Asian Beach Games was also quite poor as two players lost in the middle of the championship, while Indian player Harinder Pal Sigh won gold medal.
Pakistan were, however, able to win Asian Team championship where the Indians stood third and Asian Junior Individual championship where Indian player Kush Kumar was the finalist.
Top Pakistani players struggled against Indian players that they came across in a few international matches.
Harinder defeated Asim Khan in semi-finals at Asian Beach Games.
Saurav beat Nasir in the quarter-finals of individual category in Asian Games.
Saurav once again beat Nasir in the second round of PSA World championship.
Pakistan’s top players managed to beat only low-profile Indian players. Nasir beat Mahesh Mangaonkar in the semi-finals of CCI International Circuit in India and Farhan Zaman beat Harinder in the quarter-finals of Royal Lake Club Squash Open.
Indian squash owes much to Technical Consultant of Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) Singaraveloo Maniam, a Malaysian who served as Director of Coaching at Asian Squash Federation (ASF). Maniam says that they learnt a great deal from Pakistan to develop their structured coaching programmes.

November last year Maniam stated that once he went to conduct a Level-II coaching course in Pakistan and at the introductory session one participant asked him whether Pakistan — a land that produced legends Hashim Khan, Mohibullah Khan, Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan — needed such a course.
Maniam was surprised at this question and replied: “Years ago many of Pakistan’s great players used to come to Malaysia to play in tournaments; we used to watch them in awe; Malaysia was nowhere on the squash map at that time. Then, under the leadership of Prince Imran (the squash president then) we embarked on a systematic and structured junior development programme.
“Today, around 10 years later, we have produced outstanding players like Nicol David, Beng Hee and Azlan. More than that, we have one girl and one boy in the top 10 of PSA and WISPA rankings. Pakistan has none. I am not here to teach you how to play squash but to discuss a systematic approach to coaching.”
Maniam said it was Ramachandran, patron SRFI, who had the vision to bring that structured programme in India. Today India’s junior men and women have broken into the top-four in the World Junior championships; their women finished fifth and men seventh in the World Senior championship; and Saurav won British Junior Open championship as well as many Asian Junior titles.

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