KARACHI: “Before cricket and hockey, there was squash. And we used to rule it,” were the words of Salman Sarwar Butt, the mastermind behind the lucrative Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Butt was addressing a press conference at the Convention Centre in Karachi and he wasn’t just there to motivate the aspiring squash players who now have nothing other than the memories of Pakistan’s once glorious past in the sport that saw the likes of Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan dominating the world for decades.
He sounded optimistic and said that the sport could still be revived.
For that to happen, he has put forward a plan to launch a high-profile Legends vs Champions squash series which is to be played between Pakistan and Egypt players from April 4 at the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Museum in the port city.
The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) senior vice-president Air Vice Marshal (R) Syed Razi Nawab led the launch ceremony in the presence of Butt and the Invincible Jahangir Khan.
“It is a real pleasure to be part of this event especially with a federation that has the vision and will to make a difference. I firmly believe that we still have talent in the country, it is all about giving youngsters an opportunity,” said Jahangir.
“There was a time that only Pakistan players made headlines in the world of squash and between myself and Jansher, we won everything. But today we do not have a single player in top ten and we certainly want to change that,” said the burly champion.
The series would be organised as a part of a carnival to celebrate Pakistan’s past in the sport “with an eye on the future”.
“A four wall state of the art glass court will be assembled at the PAF Museum which will be open to public,” Nawab disclosed.
“Pakistan easily have produced the greatest squash players in Jahangir, Jansher Khan, Qamar Zaman, Gogi Alauddin and so many others. In fact, if you go back to Hashim Khan and Azam Khan, our domination in squash in the entire region is just amazing,” he said.
A five-member Egyptian squad, featuring top-ranked players, will be competing against the Pakistan’s best — names of the local players will be disclosed by the federation later in March.
Pakistan’s top-ranked women player Maria Toor will also feature during the series in an exhibition match.
“The event will play a defining role in Pakistan’s journey to revive squash which gave us glory and unprecedented successes for more than four decades,” Nawab said.
Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2016