Pakistan Junior Squash Team upset top seeds and defending champions Egypt 2-1 to lift the World Team Junior Squash Championships 2016 on August 16. The event, held in Poland, saw the second-seeded Pakistan regain the title they had last won back in 2008.
The Pakistan junior squash team comprised Ayaz Ahsan, Israr Ahmed and Shoukat Abbas with the latter two winning their respective matches against their Egyptian counterparts in the final. Ahmed overcame the challenge put up by Saadeldin Abouaish, defeating him 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 in the opening encounter to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead. Egypt then fought back, leveling the tie 1-1 courtesy the efforts of Youssef Ibrahim who beat Ahsan 13-11, 11-13, 11-5, 11-6. This set the stage for the deciding match of the final, where Abbas decimated Marwan Tarek 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 to spark enthusiastic celebrations in the Pakistan camp.
Interestingly this was the seventh consecutive time Egypt and Pakistan had met in the final of the World Team Junior Squash Championships, with the Pakistan junior squash team finally breaking their opponents’ unbeaten run at the event by lifting the title for the fifth time.
According to The Express Tribune, Ahmed, an important cog in the wheel that derailed Egypt’s hopes in the final, felt that defeating the squash giants bodes well for the future of the sport in Pakistan.
“This junior team title has instilled in us the belief that we can compete with the best players of the world in years to come, even in the senior category,” he said. “I can say the future is bright for us in squash and all we need now is the right training to become the best. At this junior level we’ve shown that Pakistan still have the best players coming up and it’s all about developing them.”
The young star was also fulsome in his praise for the efforts of the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) in promoting the sport in the country.
“PSF is doing an excellent job for Pakistan squash by giving players training all year round and also helping them play in a lot of Professional Squash Association events,” he said.
It remains to be seen, however, how far the triumph at the World Team Junior Squash Championships 2016 will go in elevating Pakistan’s status in the world of squash. Too often in the past has the Pakistan junior squash team done well in important international events, only for the junior players competing in these tournaments to falter once they graduate to the senior levels.
Nevertheless, the efforts of the Pakistan junior squash team at the World Team Junior Squash Championships 2016 deserve all the praise. The PSF now needs to build on this success by ensuring that the training regimen, coaching and facilities provided to players at both the senior and junior levels are of international standard.