World Squash Day Abuzz in Asia
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asia Bureau Editor
World Squash Day was celebrated across Asia with a bang. In Malaysia alone, 17 known events took place, while at least 4 were held in neighbouring Singapore. The day was also celebrated over in Hong Kong and Macau, while in Japan, the day was planned well ahead of time. Here’s a snapshot of what went on in these places.
Malaysia celebrated their National Sports Day on 10 October 2015 and it provided the perfect platform to hold World Squash Day events.
In the capital, Sharon Wee hosted a successful event where underprivileged children from two orphanage homes were given a taste of squash. The event was held at the University of Malaya, where Sharon now runs her academy.
Sharon, who is now a well-known sports TV host, brought her entourage and the event was broadcast on national television. The event also had royal presence as crown prince Tunku Zain Al-Abidin Ibni Tuanku Muhriz, a squash fan himself, took to the courts to join in the activities.
Noraseela Mohd Khalid, who represented Malaysia at the 2012 London Olympics in the 400m hurdles, was on site to lend moral support both to the event and to the sport.
“It was my first time ever learning to play squash and I was surprised how technical it can be. I am proud to be part of the event by celebrating two important days ‘Hari Sukan Negara’ (National Sports Day) and World Squash Day.”
“It is every athlete’s dream to be part of the Olympic Games. I just hope Nicol David and the rest of our great talented squash players will stay motivated and keep pursuing their passion. Squash may not be included in the 2020 Olympics, but that does not mean it will stay the same forever,” said the track star.
Over in the east coast, in Terengganu, the home state of Malaysia’s top men player Nafiizwan Adnan, a free squash clinic hosted by the Azlan Iskandar Squash Academy was attended by over 60 school children. In neighbouring Kelantan, a talent identification talent was held for young players, many whom were just a few inches taller than a squash racket.
Up north in Penang at the Nicol David Squash Centre, the finals of the higher learning institutes squash league took place and saw a participation of 110 players from 18 universities. The crowd was treated to some very fun looking games and a group Zumba session. Many also took the opportunity to grab autographs and photos with Low Wee
Wern, who recently showed her support for World Squash Day with a skateboard.
Across the sea in Borneo, five separate events took place in various locations. In Miri and Kuching, where former world number 10 Azlan Iskandar hails from, juniors were treated to fun games such as King Of The Court and Doubles.
In Sabah, the event was participated by both juniors and parents, who was also paid a visit by the Chief Minister of the state.
Social squash group Super Squashers hosted an afternoon to some students at the Swinburne University, which had squash courts but were heavily under-utilised. The event was led by former national junior Andre Kho and Lucy Read, a long-time supporter of Malaysian squash, and saw participation from students of three universities. The event was a huge success and had led to the formation of the Swinburne University Squash Club, which should now put those courts to good use.
In the little island of Singapore, the Singapore Cricket Club hosted a team event where players were split into two groups and each playing non-stop for a duration of 15-minutes, with the player with the highest points at the end of the duration clinching a point for their team. Former Danish international Anders Yeo, who now resides in the republic led one team while former Harvard player Nigel Koh led the other.
Two social squash groups also paid their part, Squash Buddy hosting a playing session where participation fees collected were donated to the cause. Meanwhile, the Angry Birds held an introductory coaching clinic conducted by former internationals Sandra Wu and Della Lee for newcomers to the sport. Both social groups also made commemorative t-shirts that were sold for charity that was donated to UNICEF.
One particular event that was particularly unique was a 3-year old’s birthday party. Travis Vivian-Shinozaki, the son of Singapore’s national player Vivian Rhamanan, decided that the theme for his birthday celebrations this year should be squash. The event, spread over two days to cater for his many friends and family, featured a big birthday cake of a squash racket and ball while each of his guests received a toy squash racket. Talk about starting ’em young.
In Japan, World Squash Day was not just a one-day event. From as early as December last year, the Japan Squash Association and its member bodies had held sales and auctions during their regional events to raise funds for this cause.
Former top Japanese professional players Mami Nishio and Chinatsu Matsui, who were ranked 52 and 50 at the peak of their careers, were on site to lend a hand at a charity event last week, where t-shirts autographed by top junior players Ryunosuke Tsukue and Satomi Watanabe got snapped up the quickest.
Japan Squash Association administrator, Noriko Kamiya, when contacted said, “Thank you for recognising our efforts. The amount (of donation) may not be much, but people who participated gave wholeheartedly.”
HONG KONG AND MACAU
Over in Hong Kong and Macau, a tournament was held in held in each location, where local players, mainly juniors took to the court to battle out for top honours. It is unknown if events were held in private clubs, but given the popularity of the sport in these locations, it is very likely the day was celebrated one way or another.