Press Articles of Raju Chainani (1995)

 

HIRE & FIRE POLICY 

BY RAJU CHAINANI                                                               
Afternoon 17-5-1995

MANY moons ago, Anil Nayar was doing a presentation at the- Sports Authority of India. Nayar had flown in from New York where he is based. He talked about the methodical approach used by the United States Squash Rackets Association (USSRA) and particularly how they had promoted juniors. The session was going pretty well till one sleepy head remarked, "Mr. Nayar, I did not know that they played squash in Russia."

The Americans are known for their hire and tire policy. It boils down to a simple matter of perform or be sacked. There are a fistful of dollars to be made, unlike here where many a coach has put in hours of labour for pittance. The relationship between player and coach is considered to be very important. Unfortunately, many of our coaches are considered to be second class citizens.

Ananth Nayak is one of a select group who does not need to coach to earn his bread and butter. Squash was in his veins. He has been a top level player and the decision to coach was primarily to give something back to the game. Nayak made the mistake of not getting things in writing. The politicians did the rest.

That is the first lesson to he learnt from this messy incident. Rajdeep Brar, who has been appointed in Nayak's place should insist on a contract and have the terms and conditions clearly defined. Once that is done, the federation will not find it easy to wriggle out of its commitments. The days of a gentleman's word are over. If you want the results, you should be prepared to employ the best and pay for it,

Has this happened in America, Nayak may have been laughing all the way to the bank. But, in India it is a different story where the powers-that-be can get away with such incidents. No wonder Jonah Barrington called the establishment a "petty-mined, mini-thinking lot."

What continues to amaze people is the mania to hang on to the chair. The officials constantly suggest that they are doing a honorary job. If they compared this to their business interests where they would strive to make a profit, it becomes a different ball game. People have used the sport to further their own interests. Squash is no exception and there are many tales of the unexpected that have emerged from the woodwork. Perhaps the officials believe in the theory of the more the merrier.

Somebody suggested to Ananth Nayak, "You are unique, my friend. You are the only coach I know who has been sacked three times!!" It is worth an entry in the Guinness, Book. Perhaps we should also send the names of our longest serving officials, a south Bombay club, there is a story about a particular official who has celebrated his silver jubilee as a committee member. Imagine if he had been on the payroll, what his golden handshake would be.

There's another famous person who apparently knows all about getting certificates from Grant Road and using this to get admission to Cockroach University abroad. This came to light some time ago when a certain player apparently made claims to be the country's number sixteen with a computer rating too. By the way, there is no ranking system in use at present so a certificate from Grant Road sufficed.

If only we could hire and fire the officials in the same way as the coach, life would be different. At least, when people suggest that we are using the American system, there would be truth in it. This leads to another question. Why was Nayak not given a contract in writing? The SRFI had put out a press release dated 29th March, signed by the Secretary General Shiv Hazari, that Nayak had been appointed as coach of the junior team. So why the delay in sending a letter ?

There's enough evidence available to show that Nayak's services were used. Apart from being the coach, he was also made to act as the "postman, peon, punching bag and puppet". Somebody in the SRFI dearly loved him. At least that is what Shiv Hazari showed. But ten we learnt that Hazari was being the perfect politician. There's a different culture in Bombay when compared to Delhi. Nayak learnt the hard way but he has perhaps done his successors a big favour.

Will anybody trust the SRFI after this unsavory incident? To think that they wanted the public to know that Nayak had stepped down on his own when he had been sacked. Why were the powers-that-be afraid to take it on the chin when it mattered most? They love to be photographed at international events. As the good book suggests, "That is the way of the world, my friend. They love to be seer when their hair looks good."

By the way, Satinder Bajwa's camp ends on Friday. He jets off to London and then to New York for the Tournament of Champions. The three young sardarjis in the camp invited him for dinner on Monday. They have been dubbed as "Racket Singh. Milkha Singh and Relax Singh". They were in illustrious company and were all ears as "Satinder Singh" narrated many a tale.

There is a famous story of how Mir Zaman Gul (the 1990 Asian champion and former world number six) hired Bajwa and later fired him. What makes it even more interesting is that Bajwa went on to coach and manage Jansher Khan. So perhaps there is hope for Ananth Nayak now. Maybe he can start coaching Shiv Hazari.

 

 Bombay squash gets a Shaikh-up

By RAJU CHAINANI
Afternoon 19-4-1995

HE came, he taught, he commanded respect. At the end of his clinic, Indian squash has ten more level-two coaches. Previously only Ananth Nayak and Yogendra Singh had such claim to fame. Now we have India's first qualified ladies coach in Deepika Chandratreya. Amongst the men, there's Fali Madon and Meherwan Daruvala. Can anybody dare question their credentials? Even the designer-nosed former officials will have to bow to that

Abdul Shaikh was slightly apprehensive at the start of his coaching clinic. But, as the week progressed, there developed a splendid working relationship with the nine men and one lady who were aspiring to become qualified coaches. This was no holiday for Shaikh who had flown down specially from Vancouver to conduct the course. He's coming back in September when his services are likely to be shared by Bombay and Madras.

Last Saturday, Bombay's club professionals joined in. They were shown the ropes by the newly qualified coaches with Abdul Shaikh acting as the Master of Ceremonies. This was practical, hands-on experience for the likes of Rajdeep Brar and Milan Khurana, the two representatives from the Services. Rajiv Reddy, who had come down from Madras 'for the clinic was most impressed. It was enough for him to suggest that the maestro's should visit Madras next time round

For the last couple of years, the Squash Rackets Federation of India have had a topsy-turvy programme, far from planned and punctuated by bungling officialdom. The need for somebody like Abdul Shaikh was on the anvil Whilst some people were still thinking about it, Kaiyoze Billimoria, the recently elected SRAM President, swung into action. The results will no doubt speak for themselves. The bureaucratic babus in the capital are still going through the motions of preparing a file to put up a similar case. Perhaps, their plan will materialise at some stage by which time the next door paanwallah would be offering them free home delivery.

It is no secret that an attempt was made by the SRFI last year to have the Malaysian national coach, Major S. Maniam to conduct a clinic like the one Abdul Shaikh has Just completed. But, thanks to our Delhi babu, it never came about He was trying to avail of Maniam's services tree of cost by using the Asian Squash Federation umbrella. He even announced dates of die course. If only he had offered to pay for Maniam's air-ticket and even a professional fee, he would probably have succeeded with his plans. But, as Kipling suggested, "IT can be a very big word.

At the end of the day, something positive has happened in Bombay. People like Abdul Shaikh are one in a million. They want to give something back to the sport They have no interest in die mysterious goings-on which have made Bombay squash famous. Their approach is direct and it-achieves results.

Bombay Gymkhana had provided the courts frer of charge. They need to be complimented for this and hopefully some other clubs in the metropolis will realise that such gestures help in developing the game. Meherwan Daruvala and Cyrus Poncha. who were part of the course, are starting a coaching clinic for juniors from Monday 24th. At Rs. 300 per junior per month, it's a steal. So it does look like something good has come about from Abdul Shaikh's presence.

On Sunday evening there was a farewell dinner for Shaikh, The ambience was very good. Everybody was talking to everybody. Squash's famous couple, affectionately nicknamed "Beaky Nose and Thunderwoman" were conspicuous by their absence. Ramdas Kamat, the former SRAM Vice-President and elder statesman of the game, was a generous host Even Harry Singh was there and as he floated around, it was obvious that he was relaxing. The speeches were short, the kebabs superb and for Abdul Shaikh, there was a small present Deepika Chandratreya did the honours, "To Sir, with love."

 

A squashing day for India

Raju Chainani
Mid-day 17-7-2001

PENANG: Joshna Chinappa and Vaidehi Reddy provided the upsets in round two of the ninth world junior women's squash championships. Both had wins over players who were seeded in the 9-16 bracket.

Chinappa started the ball rolling when she beat Dagrnar Feddern (Denmark) 6-9, 9-3, 9-0, 9-4 in 27 minutes. Reddy had a much rougher time and needed to keep her cool under pressure in beat Milja Dorenbos (Netherlands) 10-8, 9-6, 8-10, 9-4 in a 39-minute encounter.

However, there was no such luck for Supriya Balsekar as she went our 10-9 9-4, 9-5 to Frances Ho (Hong Kong) in 28 minutes.

In the third round, both have unseeded Australians as opponents. Chinappa runs into Kasey Brown while Reddy takes on Felicity Goodall. The Indian national champion had no business 10 lose the first game against Feddern. She looked strong at 6-3 but there began a spell of nine points in which she did little right. The pendulum had swung and Chinappa was soon a game and 0-3 down. She was good enough to rise to the occasion. A relentless attack followed, Feddern wilted and the next 18 points went to the Indian. Chinappa soon put the issue beyond doubt as she led 7-1 in the fourth and though Feddern pur together a couple of winners, it was too late for any comebacks. "I lost my concentration in the first game. There are no excuses. I knew I had to set things in order. I started playing to length and was able to cut down on the errors," Chinappa said. This was a good result for the Indian number one. Her 18-year-old opponent was a quarter-finalist in the European Junior Open and is ranked at number two in Denmark. Feddern played the 1999 world junior girls championships at Antwerp.

World referee Chris Sinclair was in the hot seat. She had officiated Vaidehi Reddy's match in the first round and had ended up with a patch of wet paint on her trousers. Nothing so dramatic hap pened this afternoon and the lady who had once been told by Jahangir that "A woman's place should be at home" had a relatively peaceful time. The Chennai lass led 4-2 and 7-5 in the opener, saw her opponent fight back and reach gameball with a superb forehand crosscourt and then came up with two superb winners to close the game. Reddy was put to the test and showed plenty of character in coining through. The Indians have their best two in the round of 32 and there is more than a ray of hope for them.

 

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