Press Report 1988

 

Let us have public courts

Indian Express 4/11/1988
By Raju Chainani

THE concept of public squash courts has gathered considerable momentum all over the world. The thought of this game being confined to the, rich man has gradually been done away with. Today over 10 million people in 100 countries play squash. Today squash has become a game for the masses. It has grown into an industry.

To the Indian public it has unfortunately remained a club game, confined to members of establishments. The powers that be have not had the foresight to think of the benefits accruing from taking the game to the masses.

The myth of squash being a rich man's game should be seriously examined. A squash court occupies a mere 672 square feet of playing area. It costs around rupees five lakh to construct and its maintenance is relatively simple. A reasonable Indian racket would cost you Rs.100 and a ball Rs. 25, (average life four weeks). Is this expensive?

Given that the government allots land tree of cost or at a nominal price, this game can really take off with the, common man. Our illustrious neighbors have shown it can be done.

To them squash ranks along with cricket and hockey. Our passions for the latter two sports remain high. For squash, it's a case of being seen and not heard.

MANY of the Pakistani stars, who have come up, are not members of elitist clubs. They come from the North West Frontier and are not masters of the English language. The point I am trying to drive home is that unless the game goes to the masses, the possibility of seeing it develop are remote.

Take this a step further. How many, amongst the common man in the street can afford a Rs.15,000 membership in the clubs? That too, after a long wait and with ever increasing charges. Instead, give them public squash courts with an annual membership of say Rs. 1000 and you will have them lining up from Nariman Point to Chowpatty.

There are several examples of how the game has developed overseas due to the public courts. In England, particularly in the last decade, courts have come up even in prime city locations.

The concept of providing the business executives with a sweat out during their lunch-break or early evening has gathered considerable momentum. A quick game and shower takes around  45 minutes, thus catering ideally for those with time constraints.

Not many people take up exclusive club membership which could burn a hole in the pocket. Instead they play at public courts. Many of London's squash courts are fully occupied from 9 a.m.- 8 p.m., catering for schools, housewives, office workers and executives.

THE concept of "a healthy body, healthy mind" has been taken very seriously in Singapore where each new housing complex is required to have a squash court. The Government has stepped in to promote the game.

The results have spoken for themselves. Today, Singapore have become no. 2 in Asia, behind the mighty Pakistanis. They have left the others, including India, runner-up in the First Asian Championship, lagging way behind.

A staggering five per cent of the Australians play squash. The land of the Kangaroos, with an estimated population of 16 million, have provided some of the world's top players Can Nancarrow, Ken Hiscoe and Geoff Hunt in the past decade, Chris Dittmar and Rodney Marting today.

To the Aussies, squash has become a national sport on par with their rules football and rugby. Again,  there has been help from the government to take the game to the common man.

Bombay can and should lead the way towards building India's first public courts. The history of Bombay's squash is a show case of silverware which speaks for himself. Anil Nayar won eight national men's titles, the U.S. Open, the North American Open and World Junior crowns, Fali Madon, Madhav Apte, Dinshaw Pandole, Nick Senapati, Ananth Nayak.... the list of trail blazers goes on and on.

TODAY, we have Meherwan Daruwalla, the national champion for the past five years. Alongside are Adrian Ezra, Darius Pandole and several others who have bold the Bombay flag high. The dominance in the national juniors is almost complete as our boys have swept just about every thing in sight.

Today, squash in India and in Bombay particularly has seen an influx of money. The public is becoming aware of this game, but much more effort is needed.

Next year, squash has been included in the  South-Asian Federation Games at Rawalpindi,  Also,  next year, Karachi play host to the world Championships for the first time. In the  1992  Barcelona Olympic Games, squash has been included as an invitational sport.

The world around us sees this game as suitable for the masses. It costs very little and doctors all over have recommended it. Isn't it time We did, something in Bombay?

As the Festival of Lights approaches let us ask our sports authorities for a special cracker. Allot us the land in South Bombay. The rest will take care of itself. Let Bombay lead the way. It always has been regarded as the Mecca of India squash. It is time we did something for our pilgrims.

'Electric' Adrian has it in him

By Raju Chainani
Indian Express 2-9-1988

ADRIAN, Adrian", they chanted, almost in harmony. The glass back court at the CCI had never seen anything like it as the pony tails and buck teeth chorus made their presence felt. On stage was the boy wonder, just sweet sixteen. He had reached the finals of the juniors and men's events at the Western India Squash championships. It was a feat last achieved by the great Anil Nayar in 1965, some twenty-two years ago. Nayar did the historic double and it wasn't beyond Adrian Ezra to emulate the feat.

A sixty-five minute encounter with his close rival, Farokh Pandole, took its toll. Adrian won in five games but was a mere shadow of himself against Meherwan Daruvala in the men's final.

To talk of him in the same breath as Anil Nayar is a mere fallacy. Adrian has had the benefit of coaching in England under Abbas Kaoud, a former top ten world ranker, But it is in India that he doesn't have professional advice. Nayar was under the eagle eye of Yusuf. For someone at Adrian's age where immaturity and lack of finesse could make the difference between becoming a champion and remaining very promising, the requirement of a coach or professional manager is absolutely essential.

I put this question to Anil Nayar when he visited Bombay a few days ago. "We don't have a Yusuf in our ranks. So let's make do with the best available. I mean someone like Fali Madon or Ananth Nayak. Both have intimate knowledge of the game and what's more important, they know the opposition. They should be approached to act as professional managers". words of wisdom from India's greatest squash player.

Let's take this a step further. Champions train, analyse the competition and listen to their coaches. To beat Meherwsin Adrian needs to do just that. He's got the talent, the physique and the will to win. He new needs to be led to the water

LAST year, Adrian showed the progress he had made by beating Farokh Pandole in three finals. He then caused a sensation as he upset the explosive Nirjit Singh. Further victories over the Services' champion Ravinder Malik ensured him a place among the probables for the Asian championships. To don India's silks at sixteen is a tremendous achievement.

Perhaps Adrian's best squash lesson came in his encounters with Raj Manchanda, The fox, as he is known, tamed the lamb, with a delightful display of ball control, If ever there was a video recording of this, Adrian would learn a lot. He was made to run around whilst the veteran waited for the loose ball.

That was almost a year ago. Adrian has no business to lose to Manchanda this year. With Meherwan, the gap appears to be closing. The National champion is a superb athlete. He is fit  fast and gusty. He knows how to return pressure with pressure, the hallmark of a great champion. Five All India titles speak for themselves. Some time ago, it was Manchanda who had given Meherwan sleepless nights. On occasions the delightful tough and power play of Narjit have upset the applecart, Today, Meherwan's greatest rival appears to be Adrian. I don't think he's quite caught up yet.

As the curtain rises for another squash season, the boy wonder from Electric House has begun on a winning note. His West Zone Inter-Schools victory was a mere warm-up for him as he sliced through the opposition. There are bigger hurdles ahead.

With the boisterous support of his fan club and the backing of his spotting parents, the stage is set for an Ezra invasion. Add to this a professional manager like Ananth Nayak and you could have a winning combination.

 

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