x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Officials outline plans to take squash to UAE schools

The UAE Squash Federation has plans to take the sport into local schools and create a strong national team in the coming years, reports Ahmed Rizvi.

James Willstrop, of England, shown here in action against Peter Barker of England in the final of the Canary Wharf Squash Classic. UAE Squash Federation officials are trying to expand the game in the Emirates. Jordan Mansfield / Getty Images
James Willstrop, of England, shown here in action against Peter Barker of England in the final of the Canary Wharf Squash Classic. UAE Squash Federation officials are trying to expand the game in the Emirates. Jordan Mansfield / Getty Images

DUBAI // There are about 2,000 squash courts around the country and the sport is hugely popular at a social level, both among Emiratis and expatriates, but the UAE does not have a national team yet.

Mohammed Abdullah Ali, the general secretary of the UAE Squash Racquets Association and a former national champion, is hoping to change that.

“Our plan is to take the sport to the schools and introduce it to the local children,” said Ali as he announced the UAE SRA’s schedule of tournaments for next season at a press conference in Al Nasr Leisureland on Tuesday night. “This is our target.

“Today, our children are playing football, tennis, rugby and many different sports. I want to put them on the squash courts as well.

“Squash is a very attractive sport and ideal for people who are looking for a complete physical workout. That is what attracted me to this sport and I am sure we have plenty of people who will find it attractive as well.”

The squash season will start with a tournament for seniors from September 27 at the Indian Social & Cultural Club in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE Junior Squash Cup will run from October 24-26 at Al Nasr Leisureland and the Junior Squash League will then run from December to February, with matches at different clubs around the country.

The junior circuit in the country has about 150 active players, while there are about 100 players who compete regularly at the senior level.

There is a tournament for ladies as well and about 100 Emirati ladies play squash around the country. Recently, there was a tournament organised for ladies who wear the hijab and it attracted 60 participants.

“This shows that we have players in the country,” Ali said.

“We just need to find them, but it will take time. It’s a challenge.”

arizvi@thenational.ae