ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) senior vice president Air Vice Marshal Syed Razi Nawab rubbished the claims of few people who demanded change in the federation management, sighting Pakistani players poor performance in the recent years.

Talking to The Nation on Friday, Razi, who is also vice president of the Asian Squash Federation (ASF), said: “The matter of the fact is that for the past two years or so, Pakistani players are on a roll in the PSA rankings, as when we took over, our players were nowhere near the top 100 PSA rankings with the only exception of Aamir Atlas Khan, but now we have five players in top 100 and as many players in the top 150 rankings. Only two players rankings fell in that period of time, while eight players managed to improve their PSA rankings consistently.”

“We have arranged training camps on regular basis and keeping in mind the tight funds situation, we managed to hold training, fitness camps for 214 days only this year and a physical training camp under the supervision of highly-qualified Army trainers was also organised in Abbottabad, in which more than 40 male and female players participated,” he added.

“It is very easy to point fingers at the federation, but no one is ready to give even due credit to us. Ever since my election to the post of ASF vice president slot, I am busy in meeting with World Squash Federation (WSF) representatives and fighting Pakistan’s case with them. It was due to our tireless efforts that the PSA has finally allocated two $15,000 events to Pakistan after a gap of eight years and due to concrete efforts of the federation, the Players Squash Association (PSA) has agreed to invite us in the meeting in England in January, which will be very beneficial to the country and players,” Razi asserted. He said some elements, having vested interests, were trying to destabilize the federation by giving wrong facts and figures while the actual situation was quite different. “We have spent millions of rupees only on cash incentives given to the players, who have performed well in the PSA events. This gesture was to buck them up and we will continue to give cash incentives in the future too.”

“I am very grateful to president Mamnoon Hussain for giving federation an interim grant of Rs 5 million, which will help us in achieving our future goals. It is my humble request to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to look into our request of allocating a special grant of Rs 70 million, which will enable us to send our top players for training abroad to get much-needed international exposure,” he said.

When asked what were their plans regarding women squash, he replied: “We are giving as much importance to female players as to boys. We have sent junior team to Korea early this year for Asian Junior Team Championship, the results were quite satisfactory. Keeping in mind females had hardly played any international squash, we have arranged two back-to-back female events in Karachi and we will soon invite top female players to Islamabad for training camp under the command of head coach Jamshed Gul.”

To a query regarding head coach’s contract expiry and offering a new one, Razi replied: “Off course, Jamshed is very much in our future plans and we have drafted two policies, short term and long term so he will be very much onboard as he holds the key in driving Pakistani players back to those heights where we were once. We just need excessive amount of funds and if government provides us with sufficient amount of funds, the day is not so far when Pakistani players will regain the lost squash glory.”

“We have already been paying monthly stipends to five top male and three top female players and with the availability of funds, we will offer contracts to our top players and also take on board grassroots level players and give them monthly stipends so that they may focus on improving their on-court performances,” he added.

To another query regarding players’ demand of removing the PSF management, Razi said: “Players must understand the ground realities. If they are enjoying each and every facility, for which they have not even requested for, it will be almost impossible to run the affairs of the federation without PAF support, as the annual grant given to the PSF by Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) is not enough for paying utility bills and paying the salaries of the staff so conducting events, training camps and sending players for the PSA events is a far cry.”

“PSF president Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt takes keen interest in the squash matters and it is because of his personal efforts and generous help, we manage to spend millions of rupees on players and we are getting the desired results. We want to bring stability in the players’ performances and want them to give results on consistent basis,” Razi concluded.