Friday, January 27, 2023

Plans for Pyramids return as World Team event gets KO

Plans are in hand to resurrect the tournament at the Great Pyramids
Plans are in hand to resurrect the tournament at the Great Pyramids

Plans to resurrect squash spectacular at the Pyramids

By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor

The World Squash Federation has reluctantly abandoned plans to re-schedule the 2015 Men’s World Team Championship in Cairo.

The tournament was postponed after a number of member nations, including England and the USA, expressed fears over security issues surrounding the selection of the Egyptian capital to host the event in November.

The postponement followed the Wadi Degla Club’s successful hosting of the Women’s World Championship the previous year, when Raneem El Welily came desperately close to beating Nicol David at her home club.

Hugo Hannes, the Chairman of the WSF Championships Committee, has written to member nations and told them: “Following the postponement of the WSF Men’s World Team Championship in Cairo, we requested feedback from member nations concerning our intention to reinstitute the event.

“We thank those nations who have responded, and I can confirm that we reviewed them as part of the decision making process at the WSF Board meeting yesterday.

“It has been decided that while recent tragic events indicate that nowhere can be classified as ‘safe’, and that Cairo has no major problems attached to it, we must acknowledge the concerns and perceptions of the member nations who withdrew, whatever their reasons, and so not seek to place the postponed event back in Cairo.

“Therefore, it is with a combination of regret and gratitude to the Egyptian Squash Federation for stepping in at short notice last year that the Board have decided that the Men’s Team Championship 2015 must be cancelled, as there has been no formal interest in hosting the event on the held dates of 30th May to 6 June 2016 and no prospect of dates later in the year.

“This means that the next WSF World Team Championship will take place in 2017 as scheduled.”

Mohamed Elshorbagy and Raneem El Welily are leading a wave of Egyptian success
Mohamed Elshorbagy and Raneem El Welily are leading a wave of Egyptian success

Despite the disappointment of the Egyptian squash community, Squash Mad understands that two promotional companies based in the country are bidding to stage professional tournaments in addition to the popular El Gouna event.

One group is believed to be keen to resurrect the famous open-air tournament staged near the Great Pyramids at Giza.

News is also circulating that the men’s 2016 World Open Championship is also set to be staged in Cairo, with dates pencilled in for October 30 to November 6 at the Wadi Degla Club, which hosted the 2014 Women’s World Championship. Prize money is believed to be in the region of $325,000.

Egypt currently has five players in the top 10 of both the men’s and women’s world rankings, led by men’s world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy. And, with a wave of juniors forcing their way into the senior ranks, the Land of the Pharaohs is the most powerful squash nation on the planet.

Cairo and Alexandria boast a number of outstanding clubs, with phenomenally successful coaching academies, and a major new club is currently being built on the outskirts of the capital.

This success, coupled with investment in new facilities, suggests a healthy future for the sport in a country which has undergone turmoil in recent years following the Arab Spring uprising five years ago.

Political instability in the whole Arab region, coupled with violent terrorism from Islamic fanatics, are obvious reasons for other nations to remain reluctant to travel to Egypt.

The squash community can only hope for an end to the Syrian conflict, plus further disputes in Libya and Tunisia, and a check put on the advancement of the ISIS terrorist group, to change political opinion in the rest of the world.

Pictures from Squash Mad archive 

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