My mate Fi has high hopes for England squash and her beloved Liverpool
It has been a while since I have done an 11-points interview so it has been great to catch up with my old England team-mate and good friend Fiona Geaves.
Fiona reached a world ranking high of five and remained in the world’s top 20 for an unbroken stretch of 19 years. She won two bronze medals in the Women’s and Mixed Doubles at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
She is now passing on all her experience to the next generation of future England squash stars. I have some great memories of my time on the tour with Fi, especially representing England, and I thank her for being part of my column.
1. You were an outstanding player on the women’s tour for many years. Do you miss playing or does it seem like a long time ago?
After watching the Commonwealth Games this year it did bring back so many wonderful memories so I guess I do miss it, who wouldn’t? I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity every day to train, travel and compete all over the world. I especially loved playing for England. It does feel like another world now, though. Time has flown. However, they were the best times of my life.
2. What was your most memorable time as a player?
Representing England at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Winning two bronze medals in the Women’s and Mixed Doubles with Linda Elriani and Chris Walker. Travelling the world, loved it!
3.What does your role as England High Performance Coach entail?
Last year my role slightly changed as I now concentrate mainly with the U19 program preparing players for the European U19 Team and Individual as well as the main event, The World Championships. I work alongside Lee Drew, I believe we work very well together in this role. I support Tania Bailey as she heads up the younger program. I also coach on Academy Squads led by David Campion which is great as many of these players have been through the junior program so I get to see them progress through to full time players. I have also been working with Emma Beddoes (world ranked 20) for the past two years which I thoroughly enjoy. It was great to see her get a Bronze with Alison Waters in Glasgow.
4. Is the future bright for England Junior Squash?
Absolutely, I am part of a very passionate and experienced team. It is a team that constantly challenges each other to ensure we are doing all the right things to support, guide and coach our young players. There is a massive emphasis on working with and guiding many coaches all over the country, the bigger the team the more quality coaching our players will receive.
5. Do you think coaching and training has changed since you were a player and if so how?
I think all the fundamental aspects are still the same. At the end of the day its not just about the coaching, its about the desire from the player and the sacrifices they are willing to make to succeed. You can’t have the player without the coach, and you can’t have the coach without the player.
6. What attributes do you feel makes a good coach?
Knowledge, experience, trust and passion for the game. Building a relationship with the player, knowing when to push, guide and support.
7. What has been your most memorable time as a coach so far?
There have been many…….Coaching with Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the Women’s World Teams in New Zealand. Winning the Five Nations, European U15, U17 & U19 every year since working in England.
8. Recently at the World Junior Championships, and also at the British Junior Open, the Egyptians especially the girls have been dominating. Do you think their domination can be broken?
They will always have numbers, and that is the crucial part. However, I do believe they can be challenged and will be challenged. Diego Elias winning the men’s junior worlds this August is an indication other nations are starting to emerge. If the girls can get fitter and stronger , I do believe they will be able to really challenge the Egyptian girls.
9. Court Sprints or Ghosting?
Ghosting like you Jacko!
10. For the next two questions, we’re going a little off track. If you could invite three people (dead or alive) to dinner, who would they be?
Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Micky Flanagan. Guaranteed to have lots of laughs.
11. We both like football. You are a fan of Liverpool and for my sins I’m a fan of Norwich City. Liverpool came so close to winning the title last year. Do you think they can win it this year or in the near future?
Last year was a fantastic opportunity, more so than this year especially with more matches in the Champions League. Liverpool have to rebuild after losing Suarez, he was so instrumental last year. Brendan Rodgers is showing how knowledgeable he is as he is coaching Liverpool to play like they did years ago, the successful years. However, I think we will need another year to really challenge as City and Chelsea are particularly strong. Ha, not saying yes, not saying no :-). I still follow Norwich a bit Jacko 🙂
Pictures from the Squash Mad archive