Losing ESR funding hurts, but Charles Sharpes is on a mission with new coach Robbie Temple
Interview by Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
Winning the Select Gaming Kent Open final at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone was a great way to end the season for world No.70 Charles Sharpes from London. However, he must plan for the new season without funding from England Squash after being dropped from their elite player support scheme.
SQUASH MAD INTERVIEW: 11 Points With Charles Sharpes
1: Charles, congratulations on winning the Select Gaming Kent Open. It must have been a great way to end the season?
A: Thanks a lot Alan! It was the perfect end to the season for me. It’s been a couple years since I won my last PSA tournament and, after losing in quite a few finals since then, it felt amazing to finally get back to winning one.
2: I understand you have recently lost your funding from England Squash and Racketball, so it must have been especially pleasing, beating two players who are funded by the governing body (Richie Fallows and George Parker) in the semi-finals and final.
A: Blimey, news really does travel fast in the squash world, doesn’t it! It felt good to beat those players because they’re both very good, young, up and coming players. I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of proving a point to anyone, because I don’t need to do that. I just want to win as many matches as I can and enjoy my squash
3: What reasons were given to you by ESR for ending your funding?
A: Just that I haven’t shown too much improvement in the last couple of years in terms of my rankings and results, which is fair that I haven’t kicked on in terms of my PSA ranking with how I wanted to, but still think the decision to kick me off the programme is very harsh and I’m still ranked above the majority of the players on the programme.
4: In financial terms, what impact does this decision have on you?
A: A big impact in terms of me having to fund all my travel for tournaments and other things like that, which will be very tough but honestly Alan if they don’t back me to be a future top player and not good enough for the programme I’d much rather do it without them.
5: As well as the financial aspect, what other benefits have you lost?
A: I’ve lost use of my strength and conditioning coach and all the EIS facilities, which is a shame because they are great centres to train at, but living in London I’m sure I will find somewhere/someone to use moving forward.
6: How has this affected your training schedules, if at all?
A: It hasn’t affected my main training base at all really because I train at the Roehampton club with my coach Robbie Temple, which is completely separate from England Squash. I’ve been working with Robbie for about four months now and really enjoyed everything about it and I’m sure it will be a long term thing. Tom Richards and Joe Lee are also working with him, so it’s great to be all training together.
The only thing it has affected is me not having to go up to the National Squash Centre in Manchester for training every couple of weeks, so I’m obviously choked about that…
7: What sponsors do you have to help you to continue to compete on the PSA Tour?
A: Luckily I have some great sponsors that help me so much. COCO5 which is a coconut water drink which have been sponsoring me for a year have been amazing and also a local estate agents called Brinkleys in the South West London area. Both have been great and support me really well.
I also get my kit provided by Iprosports and equipment by Karakal.
Without all these it wouldn’t be possible.
8: The game is going through something of a crisis, with hardly any new referees in the whole of Kent, Surrey and Greater London. Do you and your fellow players have any thoughts on this issue?
A: I think it’s because I keep scaring them away! In all seriousness it’s a shame there’s no new referees coming through in these areas but it’s always going to be a hard because there is not much financial reward for them becoming one, so it’s just purely for the love of the game. Maybe if we got into the Olympics, finally, and a bit more money came into the game, it would be something that improves in the future.
9: What are your plans for the summer, both in terms of holidays and building up towards next season?
A: I’ve had a nice little break after Kent and just started my summer training. I’m aiming to get a good solid eight weeks’ summer training in and be fighting fit for the new season. Maybe I’ll try to squeeze in a little few days in the sun somewhere around the halfway mark of my training schedule.
10: Have you worked out your schedule for the start of next season? If so, where will you be heading?
A: The start of the season is always busy but at my sort of ranking it can be a bit harder to plan in advance, as we don’t know if we are going to get into the big tournaments and things like that. I’ve been in America for the start of the season for a little block of tournaments the last couple years so it could be in that direction again.
It will all be planned in the next few weeks when the tournaments start to close on PSA.
11: What are your thoughts on the Olympic bid?
A: I still find it amazing that this question is asked and we are not in the Olympics !!
Hopefully it will finally be our time to get where we deserve to be, but from what I’ve seen from the IOC in recent times I won’t hold my breath.
Pictures by KIM ROBERTS and CYNTHIA CRANE