ISLAMABAD-Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) in collaboration with Squash Australia and Sport Matters launched a new development initiative called The Squash Classroom here at Mushaf Squash Complex on Friday.

The development project supported by the Australian government will use squash to promote health, gender equality and education for youth in Pakistan. Australia’s acting High Commissioner Jurek Juszcyk and Sports Matters CEO Jackie Lauff along with PSF secretary Group Captain Amir Nawaz, secretary designated Wing Commander Tahir Sultan and others were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Amir said the program would boost squash ties between the two super powers of squash. “We have long sporting rivalry with Australia and looking forward to bridge gaps between the two nations, who enjoy cordial relations through sports. We are looking forward to exchange trainers, coaches and play bilateral squash series with Australia in a matter of time.”

He said this programme would definitely help flourish squash in Pakistan at grassroots level. “We will include youth between 18 to 21 and impart 3-hour training daily, one hour education and two hours squash. We have hired professional coaches to pass on squash skills and knowledge to the youngsters, while they will assemble in Islamabad after going through basic training in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi. A youth championship will be held in August.”

Jackie Lauff said: “We have taken the PSF onboard as we know this country has a long and proud squash history. They have produced legends, who have won loads of titles world over. We want to expand ties and take them to new levels. I will continue to monitor the programme and hopefully, we will be able to provide Pakistan champions in near future.”

Sharing her views, Noorena Shams emphasised the importance of creating opportunities for youth leadership and the value of linking education and sports together. “Through this program, the PSF and Squash Australia are enabling us to empower our pens through our rackets and give importance to physical education too.”

Acting Australian High Commissioner Jurek Juszczyk said: “It is my pleasure to launch the Squash Classroom project in Pakistan. Australian government is very proud to support this new initiative, which aims to build on the strong legacy of squash in Pakistan and create new opportunities for young people. Our sports diplomacy policy provides an opportunity to inform, engage and influence youth, particularly emerging leaders and women and girls, more than 600 young Pakistanis will participate in the project this year.

“The program will begin in April in four cities; Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi and reach over 600 young people aged between 18 and 21. This is the first initiative of its kind in Pakistan using squash to deliver key messages to children and youth on health, gender equality and education,” he added.

Three squash legends, who are supporting ‘The Squash Classroom’ as ambassadors, are Jahangir Khan, Maria Toorpakai and Farhan Mehboob and will be powerful role models for the youth leaders.