The Making of Squash Champions

The Making of Squash Champions

Last week about 30 children from the city participated in the Second Annual Squash Training Camp organised by the Squash Rackets Association of Thane (SRAT). Held at the squash courts of Hirandandani Estate in Thane, the camp was organised in an effort to promote the game of squash in the city. Already there are many budding squash champs residing in the city, some of them top seeded in the respective age groups. But, in spite of the growing popularity of the sport, there are very few avenues for the players to progress in the game. Most players have to depend on their parents for sponsorships to participate in the championships. Even though parents do their bit, it is beyond most of them to be able to afford the fees and other expenses like travel and accommodation for the competitions regularly. This is a major deterrent to the development of the sport as also the enthusiasm of the players.

The making of Squash Champions

SRAT, which was formed last year with the objective of promoting the game, has applied for registration with the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI), the only authority which is in charge of rated championships and players ratings. By becoming affiliated to the SRFI, the SRAT may now be able to organise its own rated championships.

Besides, it will also be able to protect the children of Thane from being sidelined by children sponsored by wealthy clubs and associations.

In fact it has been the experience of many that the ratings of children are rigged. Such causes cannot be taken by individuals. Rajesh Kutti, the secretary of SRAT, said, "SRAT’s single minded purpose is to work for the cause of squash in Thane. Talented children should not be deprived of the opportunities simply because of lack of facilities or the lack of sponsorships". SRAT plans to identify and sponsor players from the various age groups in Thane.

Sunil Verma, the official coach of Jindal Steel Squash Academy, has played an important role in promoting the sport in Thane. The camp too is his brainchild. He believes that such camps are needed to create awareness about the sport and to spot new talents.

Besides promoting the sport, the camp also offered the children an opportunity to explore something new. Seven-year old Aishwarya Bhattacharya "thoroughly enjoyed" her participation in the camp. Rajan Anand, father of six-year old Mansimran said, "My son is a bit of an introvert. But participating in this camp has changed him and he is now enjoying mixing around with other children." Suraj Sharma, father of eight-year-old Siddharth felt that the camp is a great opportunity to utilise the facilities (courts), which can’t be used unless there are enough people who know how to play the sport. With more than a dozen courts spread across the city, including those in Dadoji Konddev Stadium, such camps can indeed go a long way towards strengthening squash in Thane. With initiatives such as these, it’s only a matter of time when international champions will emerge from our beloved city.

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