Truly a black day in history of Pakistan squash

By: Mohsin Ali      Published: 10:17 PM, 2 Dec, 2021
Truly a black day in history of Pakistan squash
File photo

It was truly a black day in the history of Pakistan squash, a nation, who had ruled the squash world for around four decades.

The new low came when Pakistan were beaten 1-2 at the hands of squash minnows Japan in the group match of the Asian Men’s Team Squash Championship-2021, which is underway at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The result means Pakistan will be out of the race to win a medal in the tournament for the first time since its inception. This is the first time that Pakistan will return without a medal from Asian Team Squash Championship. In the previous 19 editions of the tournament, Pakistan had won 15 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medal. But this time, Pakistan could manage to beat only weaker sides like Iraq, the Philippines and Indonesia. They will now play Iran for a classification match on Friday for 5-8 position – their first-ever game for a position below 4th in the history of the Asian Team Squash Championship.

For the last several years, it was time and again requested to Pakistan Squash Federation to have mercy on the game and appoint top professional coaches, provide facilities to players and ensure merit prevail during trials, but the federation kept a complete mum.

The federation had hired coaches, who don’t know modern-day techniques and don’t have any coaching experience as well. These coaches are more interested in appeasing federation officials and in return their jobs are not only safe but also they manage to get international tours, TADAs, raise in salaries and above all against the sheer conflict of interests, coaches including Asif Khan and others manage to become referees in national and international tours.

Aamir Atlas stopped playing squash due to the unjust behaviour of the federation

Pakistan squash is on a constant decline for the last several years. The PSF had established Pakistan National Squash Academies a few years back in Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore and Karachi but despite a lapse of six years, these so-called academies failed to produce even a single top-class player, with the only exception of Hamza Khan, who managed to win British Junior U-15 title in 2019.

These academies lack modern-day facilities as well as top-class coaches. For the last several years, Pakistan squash mainly banked on Farhan Mehboob, Farhan Zaman, Aamir Atlas, Danish Atlas, Nasir Iqbal, who served highly unjustified four years ban, Tayyab Aslam, Asim Khan, Israr Ahmed and Ammad Fareed. Youngsters like Noor Zaman, who is the grandson of former world champion Qamar Zaman, could have provided much needed fresh air, but due to certain reasons, he could not make it to the squad.

Farhan Mehboob remained failed to play to his full potential. 

Shahjahan Khan, son of former world number 8 Zarak Jahan, used Pakistan and managed to represent Pakistan in World Team Squash Championship in 2017 in France, which ensured he got USA citizenship and soon he turned his back on Pakistan. A number of players had left Pakistan due to the federation’s unjust policies but the PSF is unmoved.

PSF former senior vice president Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi was very serious about Pakistan squash as he made some highly laudable decisions; provided the hefty amount of funds and Pakistan squash showed signs of improvement. But after his departure, Air Marshal Aamir Masood took over as SVP, he hardly had time to look into the affairs of the federation for the last two years or so.

Aamir Atlas stopped playing squash due to the unjust behaviour of the federation. It is high time, Pakistan Squash Federation President should take some time off from his busy schedule and seek an explanation from the federation. It is high time to show the door to highly underperforming coaches and federation officials. The players who left Pakistan should be contacted and the federation must try to bring them back. It was very easy for the federation to pick four members for Asian Senior Team Championship as Nasir, Tayyab, Farhan Mehboob and Farhan Zaman were automatic selections. We had witnessed in the world team squash championship that Asim and Ammad are not international stuff especially the way Asim was beaten by 46 years old South African player, despite being 3-10 down was more than enough to open the federation eyes, but the federation had other ideas.

Nasir Iqbal only showed resistance in Asian Senior Team Championship.

A day earlier, Pakistan lost 1-2 against India, where Pakistan number 1 Tayyab Aslam was enjoying a 2-0 comfortable lead against Saurav Ghosal but he squandered the lead and lost 2-3. It was expected a cakewalk for Pakistan against Japan but only former Pakistan number 1 and ex-world number 35, Nasir Iqbal, managed to win both matches against India and Japan, while Tayyab, Asim failed when it matters most. Pakistani top player Tayyab was the top seed for the last month’s CAS $30,000 international event in Islamabad but he lost in the semifinals and things went from bad to worse, as none of the Pakistani players were able to go past the quarterfinals in the Chief of Naval Staff International Squash Championship held last month in Karachi.

Tayyab Aslam proved a big disappointment in Asian Senior Team Championship

When this correspondent contacted former world squash champion, Qamar Zaman and wanted to know how much Pakistan squash had to suffer and what are the reasons, as Pakistan in their glittering history never lost in Asian Senior Team Championship and played at least semifinals, Qamar Zaman said: “I must admit that the federation had to appoint top coaches as the standard of coaching in Pakistan is not up to the mark,” he said and added that the federation is doing satisfactory job and players also had to perform well.

“They (players) need to understand their responsibilities as well, while we have to bank on fresh talent as well.”

“Honestly it badly hurts, when I see the results. I could never even dream that our squash will go to such lows. I request PSF President and Senior Vice President to conduct an inquiry why did players fail and why the coaches didn’t deliver. I feel there is an urgent need for hiring top coaches and juniors should be given more exposure that is only way to revive squash in Pakistan or else I fear further decline. I am ready to help federation and players in the best possible manner and my doors were and will remain always open for them,” he concluded.”

Categories : Opinion
Mohsin Ali

Mohsin Ali is a seasoned senior sports journalist, analyst and writer from Islamabad. Mohsin Ali never hesitates to appreciate the new talent as well as point out their flaws. He keeps nudging sports federations and authorities without any concessions to make them realise their incompetence and wrong decisions and always strive for the betterment of Pakistani sports.