World Squash Day Abuzz in South East Asia
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
The World Squash Day was celebrated with much fanfare here in South East Asia, with nations such as Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand doing their bid to share the beauty of our sport in their own respective ways.
Over in Malaysia, the leading nation of the sport in this sub-continent, there was an extra purpose to the day as it was also the National Sports Day – also an annual affair where everyone is encouraged to participate in a sporting event..
There were at least ten known events in the country, but the one with the biggest fanfare has to be the one held in Seri Menanti, the royal town of the Negeri Sembilan state, where squash was born in Malaysia.
Top Malaysian player Nafiizwan Adnan and former pro Sharon Wee were hosted by the ruler of the state Tunku Muhriz ibni Tunku Munawir and crown price Tunku Zain Al-Abidin. The quartet had a couple of games of doubles followed by some Squash57.
“We have the privilege of having our royalties involved in the sport, which definitely helps in giving squash the extra publicity.
“Tunku Muhriz and Tunku Zain are both strong supporters of us and it was an honour to have celebrated World Squash Day and Hari Sukan Negara (National Sports Day) with them in the squash court,” said Nafiizwan, the world number 40.
At the Nicol David Squash Centre, national juniors from the Bukit Jalil Sports Schools and the national coaches came together for a friendly match, where the total points from all players win. The red team, led by national coach Ajaz Azmat overcame the blue team led by national junior coach Andrew Cross.
Across the South China Sea, Andre Kho led the celebrations in Kuching, Sarawak, the birth place of former world number 10 Azlan Iskandar. Over 50 juniors from 3 different training grounds gathered at the Sarawak Squash Centre for some fun filled ladder games. Despite it being the examination season there, it did not hamper the spirits of the kids who clearly had a lot of fun. The afternoon ended with refreshments and a lucky draw.
“We took this opportunity to celebrate our sport squash by gathering the players from 3 centres. Through this, the community of squash players in Sarawak will grow and become closer”, said Andre Kho.
Apart from that, celebrations were also had in various states such as Sabah and Kelantan.
Across the border in Singapore, the World Squash Day coincided with the SGSquash Circuit, a PSA closed satellite event. The organisers took the opportunity of the day to have a fund raising activity in the form of a carnival-like game. Proceeds from the event would be used to fund squash coaching activities for the underprivileged community in Singapore.
The Tanglin Club, one of the two clubs in the country that boasts jumbo doubles courts, had an afternoon of fun doubles that was won by Daryl Arnold and Mark MacFarlane. They also took the opportunity to have some of their club championship games and offered free coaching sessions to their members and their kids.
Like any other Tanglin Club event, they finished the afternoon with a quarterly birthday bash and toasted to the birthday boys and girls, as well as world squash.
Another club to have hosted an event was the Serangoon Gardens Country Club, who played host to 40 people who participated in a fun group match. Members from all ages, the youngest being 10 and the oldest at 66, gathered for four solid hours of squash. National player Timothy Leong and Singapore SRA president Woffles Wu were amongst those invited to join the fun. Like most events here in Asia, the event closed with a well-deserved meal.
Philippines, one of the nations in this sub-continent who have successfully revitalised the sport in most recent years, continued their great work with yet another successful staging of the World Squash Day at the Manila Polo Club. There were a couple of fun tournaments, divided by the level of play and national players had to play coaches to kids and adults new to the sport.
President of the Philippine Squash Academy, Robert Bachmann, a very well loved man by his players was once again leading the event. He had this to say when asked if he thought the day was a success:
“I’m pleased to report that the World Squash Day celebration was a success. The Round Robin Tournament took most of the time from showcasing Squash 57. The kids too were also waiting and eager to play the sport.
Too bad we only had the afternoon to celebrate it. Next year, it will be a full day affair. The morning for the kids and Squash 57 and a round robin tournament in the afternoon. We should have more courts by then as we are hosting the South East Asian Games next year (so the new courts should be ready by then).
The focus of the World Squash Day should be to introduce the sport to the young and underprivileged. We want Squash to be played by people from all walks of life, and public access to the sport and courts are vital.”
Thailand, meanwhile have postponed their celebration as the day coincides with the death anniversary of their King Rama IX. In respect of that, they will have their event on 3 November 2018 at the Thai-Japan Youth Centre.
A full day event has been planned with an exhibition match between Thailand’s legendary players Chatchawin and Phuwis in order. But the highlight of the day is a fun tournament where national players are required to use old school round head rackets from the 80s.
Pictures courtesy of national federations