Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Is it time for a changing of the guard at WSA?

Under no illusion. Malaysia's seven-time world champ Nicol David (pic) and her peers deserve more from WSA to ensure the women's game continues to thrive, especially if they want to see the sport in the Olympics one day.Under no illusion. Malaysia’s seven-time world champ Nicol David (pictured above) and her peers deserve more from WSA to ensure the women’s game continues to thrive, especially if they want to see the sport in the Olympics one day.

By KNG ZHENG GUAN (The Star, Malaysia)

IT WAS more of a disappointment, rather than shock, when news filtered in that there would be no Women’s World Open squash championship this year.

Why wasn’t it shocking? Well, the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) had an entire year to confirm the dates for the world meet and yet did nothing.

By October, coupled with the disappointment of the Olympic rejection, one could sense the inevitable.

So, when acting Tour director for the WSA and director for North America Suzie Pierrepont (above) sent out an official statement last Saturday saying “we are disappointed to announce that there will not be a Women’s World Open this year”, it was kind of expected, really.

Financially, the WSA have always been lagging behind the men’s Professional Squash Association (PSA) and without money it was just hard to secure a venue.

The WSA’s last option was to get Hong Kong to use the Hong Kong Open from Dec 1-8 to double up as the world meet. Personally, it seemed a ridiculous idea and Hong Kong had every right to reject that notion – which they did.

The WSA then tried to get Egypt to host the tournament but the deal fell through. Anyway, by the time WSA approached Egypt, it was already November. Frankly, it was almost Mission: Impossible – as they had only six weeks to get it done.

Perhaps the WSA should learn from the organisers of the world famous Tour de France cycling competition. The organisers launched the 2014 Tour just a month after the current Tour ended.

That’s the way to get things done … especially for a tournament that carries the title ‘World Open’. If I felt disappointed, can you imagine how the players from all over the world, including our very own seven-time world champion Nicol David and national No. 2 Low Wee Wern, would have felt?

This is definitely a double blow to the sport – first, the Olympic rejection and, now, no women’s world meet. What is more damning is that the men had a successful World Championship just three weeks ago!

The World meet aside, the WSA players have endured a miserable season this year due to the significant lack of tournaments. At least three (or even four) tournaments from previous years were not on this year’s calendar.

If this continues, the future of women’s squash is bleak indeed. So, perhaps it’s time for a change of guard in the WSA.

Meanwhile, I’m also a little disappointed with the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) for not giving a better effort to host the world meet.

Nicol has won seven world titles and countless honours but there are two things she has yet to achieve – apart from competing in the Olympics – bag the World Teams and win the world title at home.2012

Malaysia last hosted the world meet in 2004, when Nicol was not yet a well-established world-class player. So, it would have been nice to give her a chance to win a world title in front of her home fans, especially since she is already 30 this year.

The WSA did approach SRAM – twice this year. But SRAM rejected both approaches citing budget constraints.

I understand that most of SRAM’s tournament budget comes from CIMB, which is great.

And it is also understandable that CIMB, having made such sizeable contributions to squash yearly, are not so keen on the world meet.

But, honestly, how could SRAM just let a chance to host the Worlds pass by without really trying to get a different sponsor or sponsors?

And this is just squash, for goodness sake. You don’t need RM13 millon (Malaysian Hockey Federation bid that much for the 2018 World Cup) to host a world meet – probably 12 times less.

With a world champion in our midst, SRAM should have stepped up their efforts in getting another major sponsor.

Sadly, all we can do now is just sit and wait – and pray – that next year’s women’s world meet doesn’t get scrapped as well.

Kng Zheng Guan believes that a merger between the PSA and WSA has to happen because a united front for squash is definitely the way to go.

Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)

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