ISLAMABAD - Pakistan squash, after a very long, hard, anxious and painful wait, was on a roll in 2013 as young guns staged a strong show at least at Asian level.
Pakistan won the Asian Junior Team Squash Championship in Korea while Aamir Atlas Khan won the Asian Senior Individual Squash Championship for Pakistan, a feat achieved after a gap of 15 years. Ali Bukhari won the Asian Junior Individual Squash Championship in Jordan. Overall Pakistani players managed to win seven PSA titles in 2013, a very rare feat for the country since long.
It was a year to remember for Aamir Atlas Khan and Farhan Zaman in particular, as both players were on a high. Especially Farhan Zaman was clearly outstanding in 2013. There was nothing much about him in the previous year and he was way outside of the top 100 PSA rankings. But suddenly he started to produce unmatched results as he won back-to-back PSA titles in Pakistan, won the $10,000 PSA event in Chicago, a feat only achieved by legendary Jahangir Khan previously for Pakistan.
Pakistan squash took giant strides under the coaching of world’s renowned coach Jamshed Gul, who deserves all the credit and appreciation from all quarters. Jamshed had managed to get exceptional performances from the same bunch of players, who were previously down and out. It was the hard work and belief of Jamshed in his players, which done wonders for not only players, federation but also for the country. The most significant achievement above all of Jamshed's two-year term was the way he took out Farhan Mehboob from the ruins to guiding him to unbelievable heights. It was Jamshed's continuous efforts, which resulted in Farhan Mehboob lifting the prestigious CNS International $15,000 title. Farhan Mehboob admitted that he was not even half fit, but coach's urge helped him a great deal.
The year 2013 also saw, Pakistan team finishing 10th in World Team squash championship held in France despite sending a weak team as the main player Aamir Atlas was missing from the ranks. It was by all means a great result for Pakistan team, as they were ranked 16th and only last time Pakistan finished a poor 22nd in the event held in Germany. But to the great credit of inexperienced team, Pakistan grabbed 10th spot.
It was also a good year for female squash as well as for the first time after a very long gap, females were sent to represent country in the Asian Junior Team Squash Championship in Korea, where the performance of the girls were highly laudable, as they finished 6th in the event. Pakistan Squash Federation also did a great job keeping in mind the non-availability of sufficient amount of funds, they sent players to USA for PSA events and also distributed handsome cash prizes for winning PSA events.
But still a lot of work needed to be done by the federation. They need to secure the services of highly successful coach Jamshed Gul, who's contract expired and instead of bowing down to some associations unwanted pressure, federation must use commonsense and award Jamshed a long-term deal, which would ensure Pakistani players would continue to take benefit from the services of Jamshed so he could take Pakistan squash back to old glory days.
Conspirators are busy in trying to dislodge Jamshed and using every trick in their bag to achieve their goal, but it is the federation, which decides, whether they are satisfied with the coach and players performance or not. The rise of players in PSA rankings, grabbing top spot in Asia, winning all the major titles in Asia, guiding team and players to new heights is more than enough to shut Jamshed's critics’ mouths. The PSF must conduct training camps on regular basis, players should get training under the head coach, instead of forcing the federation to train with their fathers or private coaches, as private coach could only take sufficient amount of money, he can't guarantee success. It may be witnessed in the case of Aamir Atlas, who was on a high when he was training with Jamshed Gul, but after he decided to train privately with his father, his down slide continues unabated, as was witnessed with his poor performances. He failed to win even a single event after Asian title and reached only one final in the last number of events. The PSF must offer central contracts to all the major players and give them monthly stipends. The most important step the federation had to take is to find grassroots level raw talent, as the current crop of players is not going to last very long. At some stage the PSF had to dig deep, now is the time to work on war footings to resolve that problem once and for all.
The PSF needs sufficient amount of funds to run round the year camps, send players for PSA events and arrange training camps abroad. It could not be done without active support of government and private sector. The government is giving large sums to cricket and hockey and it should also financially support other sports on same lines. Squash is one sport where a gold medal is always on the cards. Private sector should also lend a helping hand to federation. They would not be disappointed in return as players have the potential to excel at the top.
Pakistan squash in 2013
Pakistan won the Asian Junior Team Squash Championship in Korea while Aamir Atlas Khan won the Asian Senior Individual Squash Championship for Pakistan, a feat achieved after a gap of 15 years. Ali Bukhari won the Asian Junior Individual Squash Championship in Jordan. Overall Pakistani players managed to win seven PSA titles in 2013, a very rare feat for the country since long
PSA Rankings of Pak Players
PSA Rank Player Age
54 Nasir Iqbal 19
68 Farhan Zaman 20
70 Danish Atlas Khan 19
74 Yasir Ali Butt 25
78 Aamir Atlas Khan 23
101 Khawaja Adil Maqbool 25
105 Tayyab Aslam 17
10 Syed Hamzah Shah Bukhari 19
125 Aqib Hanif 27
130 M Saqib Yousaf 22