THE Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) should look into ways to revive the inter-state squash championships and make it the premier event in their calendar.
The recent inter-state championships for both men and women can be considered a failure as affiliates chose to stay away.
The men’s category had two divisions with six teams — Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Armed Forces, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Malacca — in Division One and three teams — Kelantan , Pahang and Kedah — in Division Two.
There was a pathetic response for the women’s category with only five teams — Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Kedah and Armed Forces — in the fray.
Kelantan became the champions in Division Two while Kuala Lumpur defeated Selangor 3-0 to win the Division One. Selangor were crowned the women’s champions.
The notable absentees were Penang and Terengganu in both the men’s and women’s categories. Penang can be easily considered as the kingpins of Malaysian squash.
Penang have the likes of Nicol David, Ong Beng Hee, Low Wee Wern, Nesserine Ariffin, Low Wee Nee and also several promising juniors while Terengganu have Siti Munirah Jusoh, Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan and Mohd Nafzahizam Adnan.
Malacca, who are hosting the 2010 Sukma, and Sarawak, were also not in action in both the men’s and women’s categories.
On the other hand, Kedah, Pahang, Kelantan and Armed Forces, who are not bigwigs, should be praised for taking part in the championships. If they too had opted out, then the inter-state championships would have been a farce.
The big question now is how will SRAM make the inter-state championships a priority event. First, they must insist that all affiliates take part in inter-team championships.
The SRAM should look into offering incentives to the teams participating in the championships. It could be in the form of cash prizes. Otherwise, it would be too costly for teams to come to Kuala Lumpur for the four-day championships.
The timing of the competition is also important. The championships should be held before August. Hosting it in November, just like this year, would be bad as most of the players are students and would be involved in the PMR or SPM examinations.
Another option is to have a regional competition culminating in a centralised tournament.
Tomorrow, the SRAM Annual General Meeting will be held in Kuala Lumpur. Instead of deliberating on petty issues, the affiliates should make a pledge to be part of the 2010 inter-state championships.
If they cannot make the commitment, then they are doing a big injustice to the sport. And the SRAM, on their part, should make it compulsory for the states to take part in the championships or risk seeing it go to waste.