KARACHI: In a bid to revive the dismal state of squash in Pakistan, Jahangir Khan, along with the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF), is raising funds in the US with an aim of helping national players settle there and pursue the sport.
With minimal international action seen in Pakistan due to the security situation, the aim of the drive is to raise enough money so that Pakistan players can regularly participate in Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournaments in the US. With Pakistanis unable to feature in international events frequently, their ranking, as well as learning opportunities, have plummeted.
“Jahangir and PSF’s Senior Vice-President Razi Nawab are trying to raise funds so that the PSF can send its players to the US,” a PSF official told The Express Tribune. “Jahangir’s our real hero because despite being such a big name, he’s humbly trying to revive the golden days of squash. The effort has received huge response because of Jahangir and people are ready to help Pakistan players if they go there.
“Our top female player, Maria Toor Pakay, has made tremendous progress by playing on foreign soil and we want to do something similar for the boys as well so that we can rule the world again.”
Squash’s lost glory
Pakistan dominated the world of squash for decades as Jahangir and Jansher Khan won 16 British Open titles between them. However, following their retirement, Pakistan failed to produce players who could cement their place at the top. Amir Atlas Khan, whose career-best ranking is 14 but is now placed at number 32, is currently Pakistan’s highest-ranked player in the PSA rankings. Farhan Mehboob, who is ranked 79, was once world number 16 while Yasir Butt has dropped 24 places from his career-best 40th position.
The main reason behind the slump has been the lack of international tournaments in Pakistan.
“Most of the important PSA tournaments are being played in the US and England so our plan to send top players there will be fruitful. This way our players will get to participate in a number of competitions and break into the top-10.”
Future plans in the pipeline
The official added that the PSF is also planning to setup another office in the US which would ensure that the matters are dealt in a smooth way and the progress of players is monitored.
“Till now we have only planned to send out our top players there who are part of the circuit and can take part in most of PSA events. As far as sending junior players and coaches is concerned, that has not been discussed until now.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2012.