KUCHING: It will take another five years for Sarawak to become the squash powerhouse in the country, declared Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia, Sarawak (SRAS) branch chairman Robert Lau Hui Yew.
He said Sarawak would want to become the champions in squash at Sukma 2016 when the state plays host to the Malaysia Games.
“We have implemented a junior development programme and our present crop of 13 to 15 years old junior players will be there to win the championship,” Lau said during the welcoming dinner for the CMS Sarawak Squash Circuit S1 Kuching leg at the Sarawak Club last Saturday night.
According to him, to become the best in the country, the state needed three Cs – Children, Coaches and Courts.
“We have many talented children who can be groomed into calibre players and we have eight full-time coaches to train and lead them.
But we need more squash courts to train the players because the existing courts, seven in Miri, four in Sibu and eight in Kuching, are not enough to accommodate the ever increasing number of players,” he added.
Lau said SRAS had been pushing hard for the state government to build more centres in Kuching, Sibu and Miri, especially a proposed centre at the Sarawak Stadium Complex.
“Miri has taken the initiative to build eight more courts at SMK Pei Min which will be ready by end of this year and can serve as the competition venue for next year’s championship (CMS Sarawak Squash Circuit S1),” he said.
Lau said Sarawak had also gained international recognition by sending players to compete at the Hong Kong Junior Open and some of them also emerged as champions.
“Our next target is to send the juniors to the British Junior Open where they can gain more exposure,” he said, urging the players to emulate the country’s squash queen and world number one women’s player Datuk Nicol David and Azlan Iskandar.
Meanwhile, VIP guest Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) group managing director Datuk Richard Curtis said he was happy and excited to be the title sponsor of the championship simply because he loves and plays squash and want to give the children a chance to play the game.
“In our time, we did not have coaches to teach us how to play squash or anyone to lead us. I want you all to have fun playing squash, do your best and grow up as good people.
If you cannot become a Nicol David, no problem. Remember that through sports, you must be good, fair and just people,” advised Curtis, adding that he hoped to see the juniors continue playing squash into their 30s and 40s, and winning big prizes along the way.
This is the first time that CMS is coming in as the title sponsor for the Sarawak Squash Circuit.
Among the activities organised to add fun to the event were a lucky draw, presentation of Asian Squash Federation coaching award to USPTN coach Kenneth Goh, birthday celebration for tournament director Sim Chin Kheng and a talents competition as well as a 10-minute presentation of a video clip of the photo shoots of the Sibu leg of the championship.
Ends with photo in sports folder