ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) honorary secretary Group Captain Amir Nawaz termed his meeting with visiting Australian delegation including Squash Australia CO Richard as highly fruitful and long lasting regarding Pak-Australia squash future.

Talking to The Nation, Amir said: “Australian government has allocated funds for Asian countries through Asian Support Programme , which is being looked after by an NGO called Sport Matters. The main aim of the fund is to promote squash for health, education and gender equality.

“They contacted the PSF and it was planned to launch the initiative this month as Australian Foreign Minister and Pakistani Ambassador in Australia inaugurate the programme in Australia and representatives of them along with PSF at Mushaf Squash Complex in Islamabad simultaneously, but due to other important commitments of Australian Foreign Minister the ceremony could not take place in Australia , but the proposed visit of Australian delegation in Islamabad go ahead according to plan. We will soon pick four youth leaders, who will visit different schools, colleges and universities and pick up talented players, who want to play squash or take keen interest in becoming trainers, coaches. We will provide them level-I and level-II coaching and squash in class rooms,” he added.

He said the visit of Australian delegation including Australian Deputy Ambassador in Islamabad, CO Squash Australia Richards and Sport Matters representative Jackie Lauff was a good step for the long-term future of squash in both the countries. “We will start the programme from next month at Mushaf Squash Complex. Initially, it is for one year and the fund of around 17,000 Australian Dollars along with equipment are allocated for the project, which is, of course, a very meager amount as the PSF budget is in millions, but the arrival of Australian Squash Co matters the most, as both the countries have been facing similar problems as far as squash is concerned.

“He offered cooperation and exchange programmes at junior and senior levels. We can take benefit from their infrastructure and training as they had some great physios, while we can offer them top level coaches. We are also working on junior and senior level bilateral squash series, which will be in great benefit of both Australia and Pakistan . It is, of course, a long-term planning and it has no immediate rewards,” he added.

Amir said the programme would help Pakistan squash get fresh blood in next one year. “If 50 or more out of selected 500 players make it to the next level, it will be a huge achievement for us, as we can work on those youngsters, like we are working on our youth in the National Squash Academy in Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi. Our two years hard work is paying off as Pakistan started winning titles at junior levels. The juniors won the World Junior team title after a long gap and as far as senior level is concerned, it is a huge mountain to climb and it will definitely take some time, but let me assure all, Pakistan squash is in right direction and gradually we are moving towards the main task of achieving the old glory day’s heights.”

To a query regarding preparations for the upcoming Chief of Air Staff (CAS) $25,000 International Squash Championship, Amir replied: “I am confident that the results will in our favour this time as now Farhan Mehboob and Farhan Zaman are fully fit and in good form and can win title for the country. While Israr, Tayyab and Abbas Shoukat are also working very hard in the training camp and are eager to excel for the country.

“We are not taking things lightly, so everybody will see the difference. The top coaches are working day and night to prepare the local players and I can claim that anyone from the local players can at least play the finals. The event will start from November 14 with pre-qualifying round, 15 will be the rest day while the main qualifying round will be played on 16th and 17th and first round matches will commence from 17th. Top international players from 13 countries have entered their names and we are expecting a very close encounter this time,” Amir concluded.