Facts and figures show that a dearth of international tournaments in the country is the prime reason why Pakistan continues to suffer a decline in its squash fortunes
By Bilal Hussain
Cricket is by far the most popular sport in Pakistan while hockey is the country’s national game. But neither cricket nor hockey can match the magnitude of success which Pakistan has achieved in the world of squash.
Pakistan ruled the world of squash for more than four decades. Thanks to the unwavering and supreme dedication and mastery of great maestros from Hashim Khan and Roshan Khan to Qamar Zaman and from the unsquashable Jahangir Khan to the mighty Jansher Khan who earned the eternal glory for their country. The name of Pakistan would always glitter in the history of squash ever recorded and elaborated.
But that was the good part of the story. Now the twist: For the last couple of decades, Pakistan squash has been experiencing a decline. The reasons of this decline have been discussed many a times but the true synthesis of the situation with hard facts has never been explored and put across to shun the vague guesses and false findings.
But things are changing.
If you take a long, hard look at the various facts and figures gathered meticulously by AVM Syed Razi Nawab, Senior Vice President of Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF), you will get close to finding the reasons behind the downfall of Pakistan squash.
Nawab, who is also the Vice President of Asian Squash Federation (ASF), took up this mammoth task of screening the scores of history pages to find out the trends of Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournaments and players’ performance on the basis of their regions/countries.
The World Squash Federation (WSF) has distributed the squash world into five regions — Asia, Europe, Pan America, Africa and Oceania. A total of 445 players are registered with the PSA representing 59 countries. Out of these regions leading squash playing nations and number of registered players are as shown in the table.
The table shows that about 50% of the total PSA players represent England (77 players, 17%), Pakistan (47 players, 11%), Australia (42 players, 9%), Egypt (38 players, 9%), Canada (17 players, 4%) and the remaining 50% of the players come from rest of the world.
The fact that Pakistan has the second highest representation in international squash is quite encouraging. It shows that the desire and eagerness in our players still exists and PSF’s efforts to promote squash in Pakistan at grassroots levels bear testimony to the growing strength of Pakistani players in PSA. However, these facts also show that the problem lies elsewhere.
Now just take a glance at the table to completely comprehend the situation in hand.
There are about 800 PSA tournaments around the globe in a calendar year
If we look into the distribution of the PSA tournaments it comes out that the most of the tournaments are held in Canada and Australia even though the percentage of players especially from Canada is only 3.8%. To be very specific we can see that Pakistan is the biggest loser in this case as against 11% of players we are only awarded 2.2 % of the total PSA tournaments. Statistics show that this disparity is one of the reasons behind the downfall of squash in Pakistan.
“It is the time when world bodies need to understand our stance that on the pretext of mere travel advisories and law and order Pakistan squash cannot be left alone as tying our one hand and making us play in court cannot work,” says Nawab.
“PSA needs to give Pakistan its due share in the division of its tournaments so that our players can get the required exposure and exhibit their talent. Because of insufficient tournaments on our soil we have to travel to distant regions like Canada and Australia which creates a lot of administrative problems like getting visas in time coupled with huge financial affects,” he stresses
“Pakistan has justified its stance of being a safe country for the game of squash by holding Asian Masters Championship in 2012 in Lahore where seven world squash Champions were invited to witness the tournament and 17th Asian Seniors Squash Championship (Men/Women) in Islamabad in 2013 in which players from nine Asian countries participated and went back satisfied,” he adds.
“The successful culmination of these tournaments leaves not even an iota of doubt that Pakistan deserves international squash back on its soil. As a recognition of our efforts the PSA has recently allowed Pakistan to hold a few international events.
This step has been welcomed in Pakistan as it has been allowed after a break of about eight years while it is also pertinent to mention that Pakistan has had the capacity and will to hold even much bigger prize money tournaments.”
Nawab certainly has a point.
Before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, Pakistan was a major destination for international squash players. It can regain that status with the help of international bodies like the PSA and WSF. It is time that they start providing a helping hand to Pakistan.
|Country||% of Players||% of Tournaments Awarded|