Ray of hope for the game
Can this be the beginning of our return to the top of the game of squash? Not certain yet. However there is a hope in young Hamza Khan who on Monday won the U-15 title at the British Junior Open Squash Championship. He beat England in the contest. The 14-year-old Hamza, in just 16 minutes, won the final with 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 at Birmingham. Apart from Hamza, Mohammad Ammad and Noor Zaman of Pakistan also qualified the U-15 and U-17 semi-finals respectively.
This title has come back to Pakistan after a gap of eight years. Israr Ahmed had last won the championship in 2012.
Hamza was jubilant at his win in a video message expressed his determination for participating in U-17 championship next year. A Pakistan squash Federation representative said Pakistan played nine players in this event and three of played semi-finals.
There was a time when Pakistan needed not to worry about the titles in this sport. Very early on the country showed promise for the game. During the 80s and 90s Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan were the undisputed kings of the game and set many records for the country, some of which still stand today. One of which is the 10 time consecutive British Open titles that are held by the great Jahangir.
Jahangir Khan has also been part of efforts to revive the game and has been running a coaching programme for boys and girls at the Jahangir Khan Academy. This paper has been continually highlighting the neglect the sports have faced in our country for the past decades. Except of course for Cricket where most of the advertisers are interested. It is abundantly clear that the results we get out of that game are disproportionate to the investment and attention. Conversely wrestling, boxing, snooker and now squash have seen many talented youth to break through on the international scene. They have been complaining of lack of resources for them. Who better than sportsman prime minister to listen and help them out?
As for squash, we appreciate Hamza Khan and others who are the cusp of bringing back the all the titles that once were the sole domain of Pak players. They shall need to keep working hard to achieve that objective.