ISLAMABAD    -   Former Pakistan squash champion Jansher Khan has welcomed the invitation call of newly-appointed Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) Senior Vice President Air Vice Marshal Aamir Masood SI(M), terming it a good step towards revival of Pakistan squash.

In an interview with The Nation on Wednesday, Jansher, who last won the world squash championship in 1996, said: “I am glad that the new PSF senior vice president is a good former squash player and knows much about the game, as soon after taking charge of the office, he has immediately extended invitation to all former legends to join hands for the improvement of the game.

“Aamir used to take personal interest in the activities of squash prior to his taking over the reins of the federation. It is in the best interest of squash and players as well that such a knowledgeable person has assumed the charge, which is indeed a very good omen for the future of Pakistan squash. Former PSF SVP Shahid Akhtar Alvi also had taken very keen interest and tried his best, but unfortunately squash never gained momentum.”

Jansher hoped that with the support of Aamir, Pakistan squash will regain its lost glory. He also praised the efforts of the PSF for bringing record number of international tournaments in the country last year. “The PSF is the only federation in the world, who financially helps local players by sending them abroad for improving their international rankings and bringing major PSA tournaments in the country. The PSF also pays special attention towards juniors, as they are being provided top class facilities, international exposure and coaching.”

Jansher urged the PSF to hold junior international tournaments in the country for finding new talent. “The PSF should ensure holding of junior as well as senior international tournaments, as junior events in the country will provide new talent and ultimately lead to improvement of the game. Although we have immense amount of talent, yet we need to work on unearthing fresh talent and grooming them for better results. We have not won a single major title for decades and now it is right time to fully train and groom promising talent.

“Investing on juniors will be fruitful for the federation, as the seniors have almost played their best and now lack that champion stuff. However, they can still win major titles by working devotedly and training as per international requirements, as spending an hour or so in the courts is too less to become world champions,” he added.

The squash legend also questioned the government’s commitment towards promoting squash and said: “Rs 3.5 million annual grant for the federation is too less to pay utility bills and staff salaries. How it is possible for the federation to conduct training and sending players abroad with such grant. Every year, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) bears at least Rs 100 million expenditures of the PSF. Had the PAF not helped the federation, squash would have long died in the country like hockey.

“It is quite mournful and disappointing to see the poor condition of squash in the country, which ruled the world of squash for 40 years. There was a time, when teams like India could not be seen in top 50. But currently it is quite disappointing to learn that Indian players have proved their worth among top 15 players, while our players are not even in top 50 of the PSA rankings. Players don’t realise that they just want money and are not ready to contribute, what is desperately expected from them. The federation must adopt strict measures with proper planning, as otherwise squash will be completely vanished from the country,” he said.

Jansher also paid tribute to armed and civil forces of the country. “The work of Pakistan’s armed and civil forces is quiet commendable. We are proud of our armed forces, which have an important role on border as well as in sports. I feel myself quite lucky to be a part of it, as without armed forces’ help, we could never even think about hosting international sports events in Pakistan,” he concluded.