ISLAMABAD -  Former eight-time world squash champion Jansher Khan lauds the services of Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) president Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman saying due his vision and personal interest, the international squash has returned to Pakistan.

Talking to The Nation on Monday, Jansher said: “Pakistan squash was on lowest ebb due to non-participation of world stars and the low-amount PSA events were being conducted in the country. Pakistani players were left high and dry as they can’t afford huge amount required to participate at least in 12 PSA events to ensure that their international rankings may kept on improving. Playing in only $10,000 events in Pakistan was not even handful to fulfill their ambitions of bouncing back into world’s elite group of players.”

Jansher said conducting the four $25,000 events for the last two years had certainly boosted the morals of local players as they got a genuine opportunity to play alongside the world’s top players. “It is true that for the time being, top 30 ranked players are playing in these tournaments and other top 20 or beyond players are still not coming but it is not because they have any security concerns, but the reason is that these are not high prize-money events. The day is not far, when the PSA and World Squash Federation will allow Pakistan to conduct high-price events like Pakistan Open, which carries $50,000 or more prize money.

“One thing is crystal clear that despite not having exposure and almost zero international experience, Pakistani young guns are doing wonders. They have not only excelled in the PSA high-price events held in Pakistan but also inflicted highly upset victories against superior ranked top professional players, which clearly indicates that Pakistan squash is on right track and it is only a matter of time, when these youngsters will start performing at international level events,” he added.

He said it was his firm belief that the federation was doing well beyond their capacity and resources. “It is national and moral duty of national and multinationals to lend a helping hand to the PSF. They must sponsor junior and senior players to help them raise Pakistan flag across the globe.

Speaking about local players’ performances in the recently-concluded $25,000 Chief of Army Staff event, Jansher said:

“Local players did quite well. Tayyab was in the semifinals and Faraz was the dark horse, as he inflicted upset victories in the event and managed to reach the quarterfinals, which is indeed a great achievement. Pakistan’s arguably most gifted player of modern times Farhan Mehboob also performed well. Had he not been carrying injury, he would have played the final.

“The signs are positive and now the big Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) $25,000 International Squash Tournament is set to start from October 15. I am quite sure Pakistani players must have learnt from their mistakes and will perform in a better way. Winning or losing doesn’t matter at this time, but the thing that matters the mist is to create maximum opportunities for local players to play against top level players, as it will enhance their international rankings and also boost their confidence,” he added.

Jansher, winner of 686 international awards, felt that Pakistan players were no less than any other international player but they lacked fitness, passion and dedication. “Our players utilizing 20 percent of their fitness currently, which, I believe, holds the key to success. When I used to practice, I did 4 to 5 hours daily training in the courts, which enabled me to attain top fitness levels and I never face problems in any tournament. If current players maintain their fitness level, there is every possibility they will win international titles at any given place,” Jansher concluded.