ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) senior vice president Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi has vowed to promote women squash and announced to train four talented female players at a camp for the upcoming $25,000 PSA event in Islamabad.

Talking to The Nation, Shahid Alvi said he is highly concerned about lack of quality female players. “I especially announced two events for female open and U-19 categories, but women players’ lack of motivation and desire to excel disappointed me. I have directed the secretary to take four females into camp at Islamabad and they must be trained for four hours daily till December for the $25,000 PSA event in Islamabad. I promised them to ensure best training, future PSA events and also to provide everything they want. It is a clear proof that the PSF is keen to promote women squash.”

He said it is true that there is an acute shortage of quality female players but the federation is quite optimistic about future of female squash in Pakistan. “We can’t pull girls out of their homes, so parents need to understand the importance of allowing their daughters to play squash. It is my promise that we will provide the girls highly conducive, safe and secure environment. The parents must come and check what we provide the players. We are committed to provide them best facilities and maximum PSA tournaments. We believe the PSF is doing the best for the players, who in return need to work hard, excel and win laurels for the country.

“I know the situation is not good as far as women squash in Pakistan is concerned, but the associations must have to play their active roles. They must conduct camps, find out fresh talent and recommend them to the federation. It is my promise that I will arrange top class training and facilities for them.”

He said he is ready to splash out cash incentives for females, but in return, they need to give out their best. “We are blessed with immense amount of talent, the only need is to find and polish their skills. I know we have very short time left before the $25,000 PSA event, but if they train well, they might be able to pose some serious challenge to their opponents. I am not expecting over the moon results from them but at least they should fight well.”

Sharing his views, PSF secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan said: “We have a few good players at present, who, if train well and focus on game, can become top class players in a matter of time. The federation is keen to promote and invest on women players. We have invited Sammer Anjum, Sadia Gul and Maria, but both Sammer and Sadia didn’t turn up while Maria is playing PSA events in Canada and USA. I have strict directions from both president and senior vice president to treat females in the same way we treat male players. We want to work on both genders and let me assure all that the federation will continue lending support to the players.

“We have time and again requested the associations to start training camps for females and send list of players, who may get training at the federation. After watching the event, we have made a line of action and for the time being, four female players are selected. They are not top ranked players, but they are quite sharp and can pose serious challenge in the days to come,” he added.

Meanwhile, Riffat Khan clinched Rs 300,000 senior women title after defeating Zoya Khalid 3-2. Riffat took the first game 11-9 but Zoya bounced back to win the second 11-1. Riffat once again fought well to take third game 11-3 but lost the fourth 6-11 before winning the fifth 11-6 to grab title.

In U-19 final, Noor Ul Huda defeated Komal Khan to win the title. Noor took the first game 11-3 and won the second 11-9. Komal bounced back in the third game and was leading 9-3 at one stage, but she committed too many childish mistakes, which could cost her dearly, but luckily, she won the game 11-6. Noor again played superbly and take the game 11-6 to win the title.

PSF senior vice president Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi was chief guest at the occasion and distributed cash prices and trophies among the position holders. Riffat received Rs 30,000 cash and trophy, while Zoya pocketed Rs 21,000 cash and runner-up trophy. Noor received Rs 30,000 cash and trophy, while Komal got Rs 21,000 cash and runner-up trophy.