Squash is fast and highly competitive. If you rest on your laurels it is easy to be left behind. The same applies for players on the hunt for world ranking points. The game moves so fast, if a player does not compete regularly they slip quickly down the pack. This is the problem facing Abu Dhabi's Aamir Khan. The talented 17-year-old is battling to raise his international profile by competing in tournaments across Europe for ranking points.
Currently 25th in the junior world rankings, Khan is a proven performer, backed up by an impressive sixth-place finish at the Nordic Junior Open Squash Championship in Malmo, Sweden last week. Sponsorship is his biggest issue. An official squash federation is yet to grace these shores, leaving players like Khan to find their own path into international competition. "It is very difficult to find the money to send Aamir abroad, and that is really the only way for him to get the competitive experience he needs," said his father Iqbal Khan, a squash coach who finances his son's trips for European tournaments.
AD Box Media and Events stepped in to sponsor Khan's trip to the Swedish championship where his sixth place in a field of 64 competitors came in the men's Under 19 event. "It was a really tough tournament. I had expected to be in the final, but I had cramps in the final game of my quarter final match and I just couldn't hold out," said Khan, who was fasting for Ramadan during the tournament, "it's OK as I came sixth, which is still good. It was difficult to fast and play.
"I was tired and kept cramping in my knees and hands, but I still did well. It is important to have even a little bit of sponsorship. My dad usually has to pay for everything, which is hard. If anyone can give even a little sponsorship it would help." The sponsorship of Khan is AD Box's latest step in their attempts to help the development of squash. The company recently helped finance the Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Squash Championship, where 150 players competed at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel from July 28 to August 17.
Khan is aiming for a top 10 world ranking by the end of the year, with three tournaments remaining. He will head to Belgium on November 5, then Scotland from December 28 to 31 before the British Open from January 2 to 6, 2010. "I want to be ranked in the top 10 by the end of the year," Khan continued, "I'm training hard for my final three tournaments. The British Open is a very tough tournament - it's like playing in a world championship. I'm aiming for a top 10 finish there.
"A big problem is not having enough tournaments in the UAE. It is hard to get experience between European tournaments, which adds pressure when you travel abroad. Hopefully one day we will have more sponsorships and more local tournaments, both would make a big difference." firstname.lastname@example.org