By LEE HORTON
ENGLAND Squash today explained to SquashMad.com why they were forced to ban all players from Pakistan from January’s British Junior Open in Sheffield.
The governing body, who run the world’s most prestigious junior event, revealed they had no other option after players from Pakistan had continually ignored competition rules requiring competitors to complete a full programme of matches under the MONRAD system.
Paul Houghton, senior competitions and events coordinator at England SR, explained:” We were left with no alternative course of action after 11 out of 15 players from Pakistan pulled out of their matches at the last British Junior Open.
“It has been a problem for a long time and we have warned players and organisations that we would take action. Now we have.”
Mr Houghton admitted they informed Pakistan squash officials of their decision earlier this year. ” They were obviously upset and embarrassed but this sort of decision was not taken lightly and was needed. At some point we had to take action. Pakistan have been told they will be welcomed back in 2015. Hopefully a one-year break will solve the problem.”
The MONRAD system replaced the previous main event and plate competition guaranteeing players get more matches. However, many players withdraw from the competition once they have been beaten throwing organisation into turmoil. “There are always injuries where players have to pull out but the event was suffering because players flouted the rules,” added Mr Houghton.
The ESR website spells out the rules in clear terms stating: ALL players are required to play ALL matches. If you are unable/unwilling to comply with this regulation you should NOT enter the tournament.
Aamir Nawaz, Secretary of the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF), confirmed that competitors from his country have been excluded saying: “Some players did not play plate events in the BJO 2013, so they banned us for the next edition.”
Abbas Zeb failed to appear for the 13th/14th playoff in boys under-13 category; Muhammad Farhan for 47th/48th playoff, Amir Khan for 59th/60th playoff, and Liaquat Ali for 63rd/64th playoff, in boys under-17 category.
In the boys under-19 category, Muhammad Khan did not play a playoff match for 15th/16th position, Abdullah Bashir for 31st/32nd position and Kashif Asif for 63rd/64th position. Samar Anjum missed the playoff match for 27th/28th in girls’ under-19 category.
President of the Punjab Squash Association, Malik Amjad Ali Noon, added: “I don’t know why this happened and why our players did not play plate events there. I will investigate this issue.”
Pakistan’s squash faced another blow when the authorities failed to send entries for Asian Games 2014 due to the ongoing rift between two groups of sports officials.
There are currently two bodies claiming to be the legitimate Pakistan Olympic Association (POA): one is backed by Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the other is recognised by the International Olympic Association (IOC).
The last date for sending entries for the Asian Games was October 31, but since Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) supports the PSB-backed POA, it did not send entries for the games, which had to be routed through the other POA, led by Lt Gen (retd) Arif Hasan.
“We are not in a position to do anything in this regard unless this issue is resolved. However, the PSB has asked us to give them entries for Asian Games, so we will do so,” said Secretary PSF Amir Nawaz when contacted.
The Asian Games 2014 are scheduled to be held in South Korea from September 19 to October 4, 2014.
The British Junior Open has long been the pinnacle event on the junior calender as it includes all of the age groups. Only a few years ago England Squash finally relented to pressure to introduce a full Monrad System, for competitors to compete for position right down the order. Prior to this, the event saw countless players eliminated by talented, but obviously over-age, competitors who shaved their legs and faces daily, carrying no proof of age other than a dodgy passport. Many of the victims had flown thousands of miles to compete at huge expense, many others did not bother as the deception became known across the globe.
“Losing face” is almost certainly the reason that Pakistani players have been pulled out of the event by their coaches after losing, as if “putting shame on their national flag”. The fact, as recently admitted, that the players have been 3, 4, or 5 years over-age puts these losses into perspective, logically they just should not happen ! Sadly, there have been many of their juniors who have never competed as their refusal to lie about their age meant that their federation would not endorse the entry form.
The history books on Squash are littered with names of over-age players who have won trophies at this event, I am therefore delighted to read that England Squash is showing some back-bone at last, by applying it’s own rules. Too late for many from years past, but definitely one step in the right direction.Many people feel that Pakistani achievements during the last 10 years should be removed from the record books, it will probably never happen but the credibility of the British Junior Open is worth considering.