Sunday, April 21, 2024

WSF: Rami shopping for success


The final knockout stages of the WSF World Cup 2011 will be held in the atrium of the Express Avenue Mall

Portable glass-back courts enable squash to be played in places more exciting than stadiums. The World Squash Federation (WSF) has used this option to popularise the sport. Courts with attendant galleries have been installed at busy malls and scenic places — such as the Canary Wharf (the United Kingdom), New York’s Grand Central station and in the vicinity of the pyramids (in Egypt).

The trend has now come to India.

The final knockout stages of the WSF World Cup 2011 will be conducted at a temporary squash facility that will be swiftly erected at the atrium of Express Avenue Mall. When re-elected as WSF president last October, N. Ramachandran hinted at the possibility of the premier tournament being played at a big mall in Chennai in March, 2011.

Ramachandran had been hoping for this, for a long time. After watching squash being played in the foyer of a hotel in Pattaya (Thailand), he wanted to see the sport played in a similar setting in India. “We organised a tournament at the Citi Center in Chennai, but the size of the atrium was insufficient,” recalls Ramachandran. “When the Express Avenue Mall with its huge atrium came up, we felt our dreams were being answered.”

Two portable courts, together with galleries, will be set up by March 7. An engineer from ASB Germany will direct the work that will be carried out by local men skilled in such installations. The galleries will accommodate 150 spectators. Entry is on invitation. However, visitors to the mall can watch the matches from the encircling corridors on the higher floors.

The speciality of these glass courts is that spectators can hover around them and watch the action, but the players will not be distracted by their presence, says Ramachandran. On the inside, the glasses bear studded, burnt spots that shield the players from distracting images on the outside.

Ramachandran believes this is just the beginning. His cup of joy will be filled to the brim only when squash tournaments as spectacular as the ones at Canary Wharfs become possible in Chennai and other Indian cities. “Watching squash at Canary Wharf with the Thames at a distance is an experience that defies words.”

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