ISLAMABAD              -          A 12-member Pakistani junior contingent along with three officials left for England to take part in the British Junior Squash Championship 2019 from Islamabad International Airport on Sunday morning.

The players include national champion Abdullah Nawaz and Sakhi Tareen in U-13, Hamza Khan and Anas Ali Bukhari in U-15,  Noor Zaman, Asad Ullah, Ashab Arfan and Walid Khalil in U-17 and Haris Qasim, Hamza Sharif and Uzair Shoukat in U-19. Asif Khan is the coach while Air Cmdr (R) Aftab Sadiq Qureshi and Hussain Odhwani are team managers.

Talking to The Nation prior to their departure, national U-13 champion Abdullah Nawaz said, “It is my first-ever British Junior. I know the federation, country and coaches along with my parents are looking at me with the hope that I will deliver for Pakistan in this prestigious event, in which we had dominated once for decades. Although it is British Junior, but none of the Pakistanis has managed to win this in any category since long.”

“There will surely be pressure on me but I know I have to carry forward the national hope and I will not disappoint my country and will give my 100 percent to bring the title where it belongs. I have undergone intensive training for last two months at Pakistan National Squash Academy under the watchful eyes of coaches Asif Khan and Fazal Shah. I am ready to face mainly Egyptian challengers,” he added.

Sharing his views, Sakhi Tareen said: “I am ready to deliver for Pakistan and won’t take any opponent lightly. Although the main pressure will be on Abdullah, but I will give him full support and ensure it would be all Pakistan final in Under-13 category. We are ready and hungry to win title for the country.”

Sharing his views, main title hope in U-15, Hamza Khan said: “Last time I played in the semi-finals and this time, I am feeling superbly fit and hungry to go two steps to lift the title.” Anas Ali Bukhari, who is also playing in U-15 category, said: “I have played for Pakistan in British Junior twice and I will try to make it third time lucky. We trained well and I don’t feel there will be any reason, why we can’t lift the title,” he concluded.

Pakistan’s U-17 title hope Noor Zaman, grandson of legendry former world squash champion Qamar Zaman, said: “Last year, I played in the semi-finals and lost very close encounter, but this time, I am ready to deliver and win the title for my country.” Haris Qasim, who still have one more year left to play the British Juniors, said: “I know technically I carry forward national hopes in this category. Last time, I lost in the quarterfinals,l and this time, I won’t settle down till I achieve the goal.”

Talking to The Nation, Pakistan Squash Federation Secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan said: “We were sending 12 players in different categories, but three players’ visas are yet to be received, which include U-13 Saifullah Tareen, U-17 Ashab Irfan and U-19 Uzair Shoukat, who is our main title hope. We are hopeful that we will get visas of remaining players as tickets and hotel rooms are booked. We are confident that today we will get their visas.”