As the world’selite squAshplAyers GAther for the qAtArsquAsh ClAssiC, JAhAnGir KhAn,president of the world squAshfederAtion, outlines his visionfor the future of the sport
Jahangir Khan was elected as President of the World SquashFederation in 2002 after an illustrious playing career during the 1980s and early 1990s (see above).
Ae a eiod i whih sqash was i deie i some ois adiioa sohods, how is he so deeoiieaioay?
Squash may be termed an old sport in contemporary times - but we have seen numerous developments sinceits creation more than a hundred years ago. We havesignicant growth across all ve continents: the sport isnow played in over 155 countries and there are more WSFMember Nations than ever beore - now 140, compared with 118 in the 2005 IOC Programme Commissionreview!So, while the sport might have levelled out in someo our ‘traditional strongholds’ like the UK, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand, we are enjoying tremendousgrowth in exciting ‘new’ areas o the world like the USA,Malaysia, France, the Netherlands, Mexico and Colombia.Furthermore Egypt, where the sport is second only toootball in popularity, is now a major orce in worldsquash.
How imoa is he Midde Eas as a eio o heomoio ad deeome o sqash?
Te Middle East has become a hugely important regionor the development o squash - the sport is well coveredin the sector and some o the sport’s biggest events arenow staged in the region. We are into our second decadeo major events in Qatar, where the Qatar Classic hasbecome one o the sport’s most prized titles. We also have major championships in Kuwait and,more recently, in Saudi Arabia - and plans are underway or events in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Te SaudiInternational was launched only three years ago, since when the event has attracted live V coverage or squashin the country or the rst time. And, with a prize-und o $250,000, the PSA Super Series Platinum championshiphas now become the richest in the sport
Wha ae yo imessios o he Qaa oame iems o aiiies, so ad weome?
Qatar established the sport in its country in 1984 andhas been able to evolve systems that are sophisticated.Te country enthusiastically supports the promotion o squash. Te upgrade to the [Khalia] squash complex andall related acilities, especially beore the Asian Games in2006, shows the clear commitment to the developmento the sport within the country and its keen attention toquality and perectionism.I have ound the people rom Qatar most welcomingand courteous at all times and I am sure they will extendthe same genuine spirit o camaraderie to the players inthe upcoming Qatar tournament as they have done in thepast. I had the opportunity to play in Qatar in 1993, at theend o my career, and experienced rst-hand the welcomeextended by Qatar people and authorities.Qatar event champions read like a ‘Who’s Who’ o squash - including Jansher Khan, Jonathon Power, PeterNicol, Amr Shabana, Sarah FitzGeraldand Nicol David. Indeed the popularshowcourt at the Khalia Squash Complexin Doha - which hosted the men’s WorldOpen in 1998 - was one o the rstpermanently-sited, all-glass courts in the world.
Who ae he sas he i mih ook oo a he omi Qaa oame?
Egyptians Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour, plus Frenchman Gregory Gaultierand Englishman James Willstrop - and inthe women’s championship, MalaysianNicol David and the Australian-bornsisters Rachael and Natalie Grinham. Buto course it would be nice to see all thetop-ranked players in action.
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