The scenario of squash in Pakistan is set to change after the Professional Squash Association (PSA) lifted the ban on international entries to appear in its tournaments in Pakistan almost six years.
The country is now scheduled to host Pakistan International Squash Tournament in October 2014, which is going to be its first high level PSA$25,000 World Tour squash competition
“We’re pleased to see high level squash returning to Pakistan and hope that this year’s tournament can help reignite the country’s passion for the sport,” said PSA Chief Executive Officer Alex Gough.
“Pakistan has had a long and successful association with the sport, having produced world class players. With a strong crop of youngsters beginning to make their mark on the PSA World Tour at present, the 2014 Pakistan International will help to inspire future generations.”
The ban was imposed in 2008 due to the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan, while things became worse after an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team back in March 2010. And even though the country avoided a ban on Pakistan cricket, no international cricket has been played here since then.
Among a few other sports, squash and snooker have contributed substantially in creating a soft image of Pakistan after this episode.
The Asian masters and Asian Individual Championship was staged by the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) while the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) hosted the 2012 Seven-Nation International Snooker Tournament in Karachi.
‘We’ve achieved what we’ve been striving for’
During this barren run, PSF and Asian Squash Federation (ASF) senior vice president Air Marshall Razi Nawab continued his efforts with help of legends Jahangir Khan, Jansher Khan and Qamar Zaman to lobby for lifting the ban. Nawab went an extra mile by bringing in the Asian Championship – held last year in May – which created a long lasting impact on the PSA.
The PSF was only limited to host four small PSA tournaments per year, where Pakistan players and those of Pakistani origin, were allowed to participate.
“It’s a great day for Pakistan squash because we’ve successfully achieved what we’ve been striving for years,” Nawab told The Express Tribune.
“The return of international squash will help change the overall scenario of sports in Pakistan and hopefully major international tournaments will be hosted, not only in squash but other games as well.
“Throughout this time, we stuck together as a team, be it legendary players, myself, PSF officials, Pakistan Air Force or even players, and our hard work has finally paid off.”
Meanwhile, PSF Secretary Amir Nawaz said that the PSF was highly grateful to the PSA for understanding the dire need for the return of international squash to Pakistan.
“This decision provides an opportunity for regional players to rub shoulders and test their skills against some of the world’s top players in Pakistan, a country with a rich history in this game.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2014.
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