ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Squash Federation’s (PSF) claims that Pakistan is ready to host international squash events this year as PSF planning to bring international circuit back to three major cities of the country, the year of 2018 would be much busier claimed Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi.
The Senior Vice President (SVP) PSF who hosted Iftar reception in honour of RISJA members said that despite hosting lower prize money international events in Pakistan, the federation was not getting the major international events more due to so-called security reasons. “We took the initiative of bringing in the best players including some top Egyptian to Pakistan. Watched by independent security representatives, they played here in front of the packed complex. That strategy worked and later we were allowed to organise events of our choice in Islamabad.”
Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar said the PSF determined efforts to have the same permission for Lahore and Karachi also paid dividends. “Though initially, Professional Squash Association (PSA) was reluctant to allow us to hold events in Lahore and Karachi, our persistent approach backed by the government and independent securities positive support ad reports helped us get the green signal for the two major cities also. During this period I have arranged several meetings with top security experts as well as with the world’s leading squash officials. Now a record number of events in three major cities of the country are to be staged in 2018.”
The PSF SVP revealed that the Air Force contributes almost 90 per cent for squash development in the country. “We just get Rs 3.5 million annually from the government while we invest almost Rs 4 million per year each on each top player’s participation in international circuit events besides other major expenses. We know well that grooming a player is not that easy. What you need is a contentious participation in the international circuit to improve your ranking. That is the reason why we want more international events for Pakistan. This way our youngsters keep pursuing excellence.”
Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi admitted that Imran Khan’s success as a top cricketer and his teams winning the 1992 World Cup has turned youngsters interest towards cricket in a big way. “Finding talent for squash is a difficult proposition as youngsters these days are more inclined towards cricket. Still, our effort is to broaden the pool of professional squash players in an effort to pick the best lot. The country like Norway is just a beginner in the game still it has over 40 thousand registered squash players.”
He maintained that the game was more competitive and needed an extra bit of efforts. “No less than six hours training is required for each professional to excel at international level. That training is beside the time a player spends on his competition.”
Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi warned top players against excessive use of cell phones and spoiling their time in off the court activities. “These players would have to realize the requirements of competitive squash. Though provincial associations are contributing there is a requirement to broaden the pool at grassroots level both in boys and in girls category.” He said that efforts were on to keep youngsters in training and coaching throughout the year. “That is what squash federation is trying to do.”
Later Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi distributed cash incentives amongst the top players including Tayysb Aslam, Farhan Zaman, Asem Khan, Israr Ahmad and Hammad Fareed.