There is nothing superfluous about this sport. After all swatting a 24grams yellow rubber dot against a wall doesn’t look too arduous. But as the momentum picks up and the ball gets heated it starts cruising like a nuclear pinball. The court then becomes a war zone, where survival asks for superb reflexes, great stamina and a perfect game plan.
Squash is one of those sports, which can be learned only in a minute but it certainly takes a lifetime to master it. Squash is not new to India. The sport got popularised during the Raj era and that’s why today most of the old clubs have a squash court in their long list of sports amenities.
Perhaps this is also one of the reasons, why squash is still considered to be an elite sport. But for now it seems that a young Indians are all set to make their mark on the squash courts. For some its a passport to the foreign shores and the rest for love of the sport. And, with India winning the bronze medal at the recently concluded Asian games, the future of the squash in India certainly looks brighter.
“The prospects have never looked so good ever before,” asserts national coach, Cyrus Poncha. He feels that it’s just a matter of time when one of the players will make it to the top rankings and the sport will get its due credit. “Today, we are at an important juncture. We have the infrastructure and the players.Once, one of these young lads perform and we have a world champion from India, you’ll see squash catching the fancy of many more people,” expresses Poncha. The mood in Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) is upbeat. Recently, government also agreed to upgrade the level of the game in its list, which entitles the federation for availing more grants and facilities.
The academy in Chennai, which opened in the year 2000 already boasts of world-class infrastructure. It has got eight courts, which includes a portable glass court, a gym and a swimming pool. The men’s world championship will also be staged at the academy this year. “Our aim is to popularise the sport and provide the grounds from where we can find and nurture talent. We’ll be soon coming up with similar academies in all the major cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chandigarh,” reveals N.Ramachandran, secretary general, SRFI. Ramachandran wants to break the myth that Squash is an elite sport. “Now that we are eligible to send players abroad for training, export sports equipment and hire foreign coaches. I’m sure we will be able to make the sport reach to the masses,” he envisions.
Already SRFI has appointed S. Maniam, who was the head coach of Malaysia for 20 years as the consultant coach. Maniam is also handling the National Junior Development programme, which is designed to promote the game at the grass root level. “My job involves developing a coaching scheme for coaches and to nurture new talent. In the past we held camps at different cities and identified talented players. The aim is to produce national level teams,” says Maniam. Still, Maniam feels that coaches need to take their job more seriously. “We’ve a handful of coaches who work full time. One of the biggest need is to increase that number,” asserts Maniam. He also believes that the difference between Malaysia and India is mainly about the financial assistance. “In Malaysia, I have a target and if I achieve it, I get aid. Here things are a bit different,” he voices. Read more of this post