Islamabad - Pakistan National Squash Academy {PNSA) Peshawar head coach Atlas Khan has said that the academy players have started excelling at national and international level.

Atlas expressed these views along with assistant coach Tahir Iqbal Khan in interview with The Nation. He said: “The four-month progress of the academy and his players in British Junior Open has made him proud. M Hamza played U-13 category semifinals in British Open while others performed exceptionally in Doha, Japan and Malaysia. Wherever they have played at national level, they won not less than titles.”

He said they have around 30 players, while they are working on backup as well. “These young players need exposure, while I strongly recommend that Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) should start a league system every month, involving senior players. I took over responsibilities some four months back and since that day, we are highly occupied as youngsters are coming thick and fast, so I have requested Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi to construct four more squash courts and at least one championship court at the land available inside the complex. He has promised me to issue orders in this regard.”

Atlas said the performance of junior players in British Junior Open could have been much improved, had the federation not based them at Islamabad rather sending them abroad to play alongside international players to get much-needed international exposure. “I have been working with players for two hours in court and passed on directives to each coach to spend two hours with every player. I have told the PSF that only qualified coaches should accompany players in international events.”

“I have six courts in academy where the players are trained from 3pm to 6pm daily and sometimes we also use championship court due to heavy schedule of players. PAF academy coaching system is going on well as we are teaching every shot in the book and also stressing on physical fitness. I am also educating coaches and developing and grooming their fitness and game levels,” he added.

“I congratulate new Air Chief, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar, who is also a very good squash player. We have pinned high hopes and quite optimistic that his arrival will prove a good omen for squash in general and players in particular,” Atlas concluded.

Sharing his views, assistant coach Tahir Iqbal Khan, who returned from USA after imparting coaching to a number of US-based players, said the standard of coaching in the academy is excellent. “I am highly enjoying my role, as I am given freedom to work independently and Atlas Khan is a great teacher as well, to whom I have been learnt a lot. I have trained and coached my brother Nasir Iqbal Khan besides a lot of other players as well. We have four players in each age group which have now been enhanced to five. They have potential but they need tough competition and international exposure to further excel.”

“It is my suggestion to the PSF to start a programme involving senior players like Aamir Atlas, Danish Atlas, Farhan Mehboob, Farhan Zaman and Nasir Iqbal to train juniors, as it will help seniors and juniors a great deal and they will start producing better results,” Tahir concluded.