Mohd Syafiq Kamal (left) is of the top national squash juniors who would benefit from having more elite coaches in the SRAM set-up. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Squash are on the right track in the development of young talents but they lack quality coaches to mould them to become top players.
Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president Huang Ying How said this will hamper Malaysia’s effort to become a powerhouse like Egypt or England.
At the just concluded Glasgow Commonwealth Games, world No.1 Nicol David delivered a gold medal to live up to expectations but the rest of the team were slightly off the mark although Low Wee Wern and Ivan Yuen, both graduates from the 2009 World Junior Championships, did well to enter the quarter-finals.
The encouraging sign for Malaysian squash however is the results of the national juniors in recent years.
Malaysia are one of the top achievers at junior level, apart from Egypt, having won four British Junior Open titles since 2011, dominated the Asian Junior Championships for the past two years and won three of four golds at stake at the Asian Youth Games last year.
And Ying How believes the lack of quality coaches in the mould of Dave Pearson and Malcolm Willstrop is the reason behind the predicament.
“To be honest, the Commonwealth Games results weren’t great and to say that SRAM are in a worrying state is fair,” said Ying How.
“But as our junior results have shown, our programme at the grassroots is definitely working.
“We have players like Mohd Syafiq Kamal, Rachel Arnold and Vanessa Raj who have stepped up into the backup squad. But when the benchmark is Nicol, it’s obviously going to be very tough.
“Maybe it’s good that we didn’t do well in Glasgow because now we can rebuild the squad. The idea is not to search for that one special player like Nicol but to build an overall strong squad.
“But to do that we need quality coaches – something that we are lacking.”
Currently there are only four coaches – Peter Genever, Raymond Arnold, Andrew Cross and Mohd Shahril Shahidan at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.
The four share a load of more than 30 players – elite and junior players combined.
“Penang is a good example where they have two elite coaches in Aaron Soyza and Khoo Teng Hin – one of the reasons why they have always produced good players,” said Ying How.
“But it’s not easy to attract good coaches because SRAM have always been dependent on the National Sports Council (NSC) for the coaches’ salary.
“That is something SRAM are looking to change. We plan to secure sponsorship for coaches and to develop them, so that they can impart their knowledge to the youngsters.
“But until we achieve that, we will keep sending our promising talents for overseas training stints.”