‘Both finals were a credit to the game and I felt privileged to have been a part of it’
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
Referee Jason Foster reached the top of the squash refereeing pyramid when he was selected to take control of the men’s final between Ali Farag and Mohamed ElShorbagy at the CIB PSA World Championships in Cairo earlier this week.
It was a fitting reward for years of service to the game. Prior to his commitment to refereeing, Jason was Hertfordshire county champion and represented the England over-35 team in the Home Internationals.
He was also club manager at Bishop’s Stortford between 2003 and 2007 when they became national club champions, held two British Junior Closed events, staged a PSA event and were voted England Squash club of the year.
Nowadays, 53-year-old Jason works for Avon and Somerset Police in Bristol and is a member of Rhiwbina Squash Club in Cardiff.
He is happy to turn out for the club’s D team when not away on refereeing duty. As he puts it: “My body doesn’t like me any more.”
He has climbed up the refereeing ladder, gaining valuable experience at numerous tournaments and taking the chair for several key matches in the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic in March.
Jason was delighted to be invited to officiate at the World Championships and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience in Cairo.
He said: “The venue at the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization was fantastic. CIB are very generous sponsors to the PSA tour and Karim Darwish and his team did an excellent job putting on and promoting the event.
“The hospitality was perfect, and the hotels were amazing; the best I’ve ever experienced. The crowd at the Museum venue were fantastic.
“I managed to get a tour to see the mummies at the museum and also a trip to the Pyramids, so it was all a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
As for the business side of the trip, he added: “The squash, as you can imagine, was very competitive. It’s a world championship, after all!
“Both finals were a credit to the sport. I was very fortunate to be selected to referee the final but we had a great team there – Sheldon Anderson, Andrea Santamaria, Ashraf Hussain, plus the local referees Samah Hanafy, Mayer Elsirty and Mohamed Nagar, with John Masarella and Ralf Harenberg there for earlier rounds. A great experience I will never forget.”
I asked Jason how it felt to be chosen to ref the mens’ final. Knowing how much respect Ali and Mohamed have for each other, I guessed it must have made life a little easier.
Jason replied: “I was a bit overwhelmed to be selected because I didn’t expect it. So I knew I had to keep my focus for another day. It had been a long event; 10 days.
“Yes, you are right, they made my job easier by playing the ball and the game in the right spirit. I called a ‘not up’ early in game one on Mohamed and before it went to a video review Ali stated the ball was good and to play a let.
“As a result of that I sensed that it was going to be a fair match and to let them play, not get too involved and enable the match to unfold into the great final it was.
“I was very happy with how the match went because it was a fantastic match that will be remembered for the squash and the players involved – and fortunately not remembered by the ref making a poor decision! It’s all about the players and I was very privileged to have been part of it.”
Jason received a glowing tribute from three-times world champion Nick Matthew, who posted his congratulations on Twitter.
Pictures courtesy of Jason Foster