PETALING Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is calling on budding squash players to sign up for its 2015 Junior Development Programme.
The programme, which kicked off at the beginning of the month, is a grassroots project now in its 25th year and is notable for its outstanding participants namely former national squash player and 1998 World Junior champion Ong Beng Hee and 2010 World Junior Championship finalist Ivan Yuen.
“This programme started in 1990 and is one of the pioneering projects for junior squash development.
“It has helped Selangor come up with top players like Michael Soo, Beng Hee, Kenny Ng and Marcus Yap,” said MBPJ squash programme coordinator Mary Ong.
The programme is open to students in Selangor between the ages of five and 12, and who will undergo a three-month trial period before being assessed.
“In a bid to uncover talent, we will try to accommodate as many players as we can. We have taken up to 70 under our four coaches and we have ample courts,” explained Ong.
Under the programme, participants undergo training with Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia qualified coaches Kenny Foo, Dzulkifli Hassan, Henry Tan and Eugene Ho for two hours every Saturday and Sunday, except on public holidays.
The participants receive pointers on ball sense and the fundamental techniques among other things and if they progress, then the coaches will groom them further to improve their skills.
Good reflexes, ball sense and a healthy level of interest in the game are some of the elements required for the participants to grow along with the programme.
Ong added that their short-term goal was to get the juniors to reach the Selangor Schools Sports Council (MSSS) level and “then hopefully progress from there”.
Ong, a former Squash Rackets Association of Selangor secretary, has been involved in the sport for almost four decades and targets producing a top-level player every 10 years.
She has seen two come through the ranks so far – Beng Hee and Yuen.
Entry to the programme is free and Ong added that they wish to see interested juniors take advantage of the opportunity and participate in it from an early age.
“We believe in running the programme for the young ones to pick up the game properly and it is better to do it the right way,” said Ong.
Those interested should go to Astaka Sports Complex from Sunday onwards with non-marking shoes, a racquet and protective eye-wear, which are requirements. For more information, call 017-8815066.
Pioneering programmes for junior squash development still going strong after 25 years