PESHAWAR     -    Pakistan National Squash Academy (PNSA) Hashim Khan Squash Complex coach Tahir Iqbal Khan says he is optimistic about Peshawar-based academy junior players’ future, saying they have already been creating waves in world of squash in junior events.

“Two of academy players Hamza Khan and Noor Zaman Khan have exhibited great squash prowess at British Junior Open and other international tournaments and have won a number of junior titles,” said Tahir, while talking to The Nation. He is also coach of former world number 35 and Pakistan No 1 squash player Nasir Iqbal, who has been serving unjustified four-year ban imposed on him on the pressure of India by anti-doping agency.

The coach said that the academy has around 30 plus kids in different age groups, who are enjoying free training at one of the world’s best available squash courts. “I must give credit to Pakistan Air Force (PAF), as they are doing great job as they are taking good care of Pakistan squash future and also providing them with free coaching, rackets, balls, squash bags, gears and also prepared six courts at Hashim Khan Squash Complex available to the youngsters free of cost, equipped with latest facilities such as air conditioned, trainers and free coaches, who are imparting training to these kids on daily basis for around four hours.”

Tahir said that every proper and best facility is being provided to the kids, which include diet list, fitness training, physical training and squash training with free supplements, juices and fruits to keep them fit and strong. “Without PAF support and huge resources, the federation cannot even think about gathering such huge amount of youngsters, who train according to modern day needs. We have four players in each age group and five in U-13.

“As demand is massive, so I feel Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) should talk to PAF and construct more courts to meet this increasing demand. Despite having six courts, we have to wait to pass on training to all the youngsters. We have some very skilful juniors at the academy, who if properly trained, provided with facilities and international exposure, they are bound to become champions in their respective age groups and win major PSA titles for the country,” he added.

The coach said that ever since Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi has taken over the charge as senior vice president, the bar is set very high. He has invested huge amount of money, brought top level coaches and also sent junior players to Egypt for training and playing. When such a devoted and hard working person is around, everybody wants to contribute and put more efforts. I have taken kids to 25kms out of Peshawar city and trained them on sand, which proved very helpful for the youngsters.  “Our youngsters have potential but they just lack mental toughness. PAF Group Captain Irfan Asghar has been taking keen interest in squash promotion and regularly visiting the PNSA, Peshawar. He helped in scrutiny from U-11 to U-19 and introduced fitness programme, which was ignored in the past, while outside interference was also stopped by PAF, which is helping a lot,” he added.

He said he is very happy with the meeting of coaches and players at Mushaf Squash Complex few days back. It is very important to conduct such meetings after every 15 days or at least once in a month/ “It was great initiative taken by PSF while a very motivational speech was delivered by Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi. The meeting remained very fruitful, as complete analysis of each and every player was discussed in detail.  “There is dire need to further improve our system. We have tremendous potential in U-11 here at Hashim Khan. Umair Khan, from Hashim Khan family, Mobeen Kamran and others are eager to excel at higher level. We have a very sensational lot in U-11, that’s why we picked seven players for training. We need to educate them, sharpen their skills and fitness and transform them into champions. I request PSF to construct more squash courts at PNSA Peshawar as it will help in training and providing more talent to Pakistan,” Tahir concluded.