Aamir Atlas Khan has slammed Pakistan’s squash governing body for its part in the 21st century decline of the world’s most successful squash nation.
The Pakistan number one is rebuilding his career after a controversial ban by the Pakistan Squash Federation, and suggested the PSF should listen to him rather than treat him punitively.
“What they did was totally unfair,” Khan said of a two-year ban imposed for disappointing performances at last year’s world team championships, a punishment which was then apparently modified to accept his right to compete on the PSA Tour.
“Ban the top player and you ban the person who plays for the country. Banning me was like banning Pakistan squash,” he added indignantly.
“I don’t know what was going on inside the PSF but whatever it was it was bad for the promotion of squash. Ban top players or those playing for the country, and it’s like hitting your own legs with a stick.”
Khan, the 21-year-old nephew of Jansher Khan, a Pakistani legend who won the World Open a record eight times, slumped surprisingly from a career high world number 14 in late 2009 to 30 in the middle of last year.
However there were signs of improvement here in Grand Central terminal at the Tournament of Champions, the first World Series event of the 2012 PSA Tour, with Khan taking Mohammed El Shorbagy, the fastest rising player in the top ten, to four hard games.
Aamir attributes his renewed self-belief partly to Jahangir Khan, another Pakistani squash legend who once went five years unbeaten and who offered him support when he was at his lowest ebb.
“Jahangir got information about the ban and he personally called me and I appreciated him for this,” he said. “He gave me a good briefing, and gave me motivation and I was very happy.
“He is a very nice person and very sincere about squash. If other players followed Jahangir’s example it would be great for the promotion of squash.”
Not all ex-players have Jahangir’s attitude, Aamir Atlas Khan claims. Some have egotistical reasons for not wanting the current generation to succeed, he believes.
“A few former players are also responsible for the damage to squash, because they don’t want squash to come top in our country again,” he alleged, before modifying the remark.
“Everyone knows who that former player is,” he went on, confirming that “it is just one player”.
He added: “People are really helping now and want to do something for the promotion of squash but most are not really in a position to do so because they are not linked with the PSF.”
The federation should listen and not dictate, he concluded.
“I think PSF should follow Jahangir Khan’s advice and listen to my advice too. I have some good planning for the PSF. It will help them.
“Training is very different now from before. Squash is faster and sharper now. You need a different kind of training now. But people in Pakistan still think and want to do the same training, which is no longer beneficial.
“They should hire new coaches, qualified coaches, who have been involved with squash recently. It would be good for the PSF to hire a physical trainer from abroad.”
Aamir Atlas Khan currently travels alone, something no leading player does, and therefore needs help in acquiring sponsorship for a coach and a physio to accompany him.
Despite this he said he’ll still try to play 13 tournaments in 2012, aiming to reach the world’s top ten this year as he tries to bring back some glory to the land of the sport’s greatest legends.