What's On My Mind
by Pierre Bastien

April 20th, 2014

Squash is Back in Egypt and Pakistan

The El Gouna International PSA squash event was back on the calendar this year after a one-year absence due to political unrest in Egypt. Meanwhile, the PSA just ended a 6-year ban on players participating in tournaments in Pakistan due to the security concerns there. 

I like to see the game showing resilience and returning to these countries that have long produced top players.

The El Gouna Open featured three Egyptians in the semifinals, France’s Greg Gaultier being the lone representative from out of country. I watched the Gaultier-Shorbagy semifinal and the Shorbagy-Ashour final and I have to say, it was truly exceptional squash. (I’ve heard the Ashour-Shabana semifinal was also a classic.) Watching on Squash TV, the venue appeared to be in beautiful condition, and the crowd seemed vibrant. As one of the Squash TV announcers put it, these matches were a social occasion – the crowd was getting into it, and, from outward appearances, not just cheering for their local Egyptian heroes (who could blame them…) but also applauding fine squash regardless of nationality.

The news out of Pakistan is promising as well. The nation of course has a proud history in the game of squash. I’ve never actually watched a PSA even played in Pakistan though, so in my mind it’s a place where squash was played “in the past”. This of course isn’t true – it’s played there in the present. They’ve now got a tournament planned for October, which I hope will change perceptions of Pakistani squash and begin to break new ground for tournaments to be held there.

Sitting here in the US, and wondering about the future of squash, I’m often thinking about how the sport fares against the million other things Americans could do with their time. The security situation is never something I consider – I’m usually thinking more about things like economics. It’s cool to consider that there are players around the world who are determined to play squash despite what some might consider challenging circumstances.

Pierre Bastien publishes www.SquashSource.com

What's On My Mind is a column by rotating authors.
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