Despite the turmoil, the Egyptian squash machine powers on
By FARAH ABDEL MEGUID – Squash Mad Egyptian Correspondent
Egyptian squash professional Farah Abdel Meguid writes for Squash Mad about life in her country during difficult days of political upheaval and massive social changes. Despite obvious disruptions, the Egyptian squash machine appears to be functioning as smoothly as ever. Farah, who is coached in Egypt by Mohamed Abbas at the Gezira Club in Cairo, is currently ranked 61 in the world. She recently won a significant tournament in Malaysia.
You cherish the goal of being a professional player one day, while at the same time having to pay enough attention to your studies because lack of discipline catches on.
You’d think that pursuing squash is hard enough as it is considering it’s not a well known sport in Egypt, right? Wrong! Politics plays a huge part in that, too.
The Egyptian revolution was a movement that took place following a popular uprising that began on the 25th of January 2011. The revolution demanded the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and his regime, during which, Egypt was described as a “War Zone”.
Hosni Mubarak had a huge impact on squash but not to be mistaken as the sole reason behind Egypt’s success in the sport.
Mubarak’s love for the game helped squash gain some popularity within Egyptians with attending some of the prestigious Egyptian tournaments (which draws the world’s top players) like the Hurghada International and the Al-Ahram international.
The political unrest in Egypt following the revolution led to a daily curfew from 7pm to 6 am. This affected the level of squash greatly in Egypt where most players were trying to plan out their training routines managing only a couple of hours of practice before curfew.
Such escalations didn’t just affect the training routines, players had to go through the hassle of picking out which tournaments to participate in, while setting dates and timings that are convenient to the curfews’ situation.
What I previously mentioned is only one small part of how squash got affected by the political situation in Egypt.
Furthermore, in the prior years we would host several WSA and PSA tournaments around Egypt which helped most of the players get ranking points without having to travel much and even the juniors got to play with the world’s best squash players.
Almost all of the local tournaments were cancelled, and players had to keep training even with no set goals which is one of the most difficult situations an athlete can face.
With all the difficulties that Egyptian squash players faced in the past three years they have still managed to keep going with determination and the discipline necessary to maintain the level of competitiveness, achieving a worldwide end result of four Egyptian PSA players in the top 10 and 13 players in the top 50 Also, two WSA players in the top 10 and nine players in the top 50.
NOTE: In future weeks Farah will delve behind the scenes to highlight the dramas and astonishing success stories in Egyptian squash.
Picture by Farah Abdel Meguid