Different strokes for ex-squash player Sharon

THE life of Sharon Wee (pic) revolves around sports. From a professional squash player to a coach and a sports commentator. She is hoping that her drive, devotion and experience will come in handy as the new vice-president of the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM).

Q: Sharon, tell us briefly about your sports career?

I’ve always been involved in sport. I’ve done tennis, badminton and running before squash. I fell in love with squash as a kampung girl from Melaka when I was 11. At 13, I represented Malaysia and I continued until I was 33, that’s 20 years of journey in squash. I’ve been the national No. 1 and world No. 18. I’ve learnt all these years that hard work will bring you somewhere.

It’s also about commitment and being responsible to be successful. Sports have also taught me to believe in myself and be confident. All these values have taught me powerful principles of life – to work hard, be responsible, never give-up and always stay humble.

Why did you venture into sports commentating after squash and how has it been?

I did coaching for a while but the career as a sports commentator came through an unexpected opportunity. I’ve never thought of broadcasting. In 2010, Astro Arena wanted a sports expert to partner Shaukei Kahar for the KL and Malaysian Opens. As I spoke good Bahasa... it was easy for me to fit in. It went well and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I wasn’t thinking about it much after that but when I quit playing that year, I was asked whether I wanted to do it for good... I agreed and I’ve become one since February, 2011.

A player, a coach, a sports commentator, now an administrator, you’ve come a full circle, how would you describe this journey?

My life is all about sports isn’t it (she laughed). I was a sports fan even at the age of 6, played competitively at 11, became a coach and turned to broadcasting. I was also a motivational speaker at one stage. I still do sports (at the age of 42). Now, I’m the vice-president of SRAM, indeed it’s a full circle for me. I’m proud to be seen as a role model for other sports enthusiasts. I also see sports as a platform for unity, and being a patriotic person, I really appreciate sports. There have been good and bad experiences with different people through sports but all of it have made me who I am today.

What were your perceptions about the administrators when you were a player?

Interesting! Players are players, at that age, we’ve our own ideas, and the way we saw people or things were different. It’s the other way around now, but it’s good as it will give me a better idea on how to manage the players – as I know how they will feel and react. Sometimes, players see the administrators as strict, not flexible. The focus of an administrator is the players and I will do the same, and continue to look into their welfare. We will work together for the good of the sport. I promised myself that having been a player before, I will take care of the players and to do that I’ll listen to them and be there for them.

What are the first few things you would like to change?

SRAM have always been one of the best managed associations and professionally run in Malaysia. It’s respected by other associations here and also abroad. We’ve always had good junior development. There is nothing to change but there are areas we can improve on. I would like to champion a balance between education and a squash career for players and improve the involvement of girls. One more thing... is to give creative media exposure to SRAM. We want more people to know about squash.

Our newly appointed president Gerard Monteiro is a former player too and so is Azlan Iskandar, our deputy president. I truly hope that the presence of former players will provide a fresh environment and together with the committee, we’ll make SRAM better in every way.

What are the challenges you foresee?

The immediate challenge is to keep players on their toes during this tournament-starved season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We need to get our acts together under this tough situation. There are financial impacts, sponsors are also affected, so I think, internally, we need to create a good support system for the players and us to pull through this phase and emerge stronger.

After the retirement of Datuk Nicol David, many do not think that we will have another world champion in squash. What’s your thought on this?

Nicol is an extraordinary player. She is a very good friend of mine and I’m proud to be her former teammate. She’s committed, humble and just one in a million.

We may not get another world champion like Nicol but I do not agree that we can’t find another world squash champion from Malaysia. We will get another but only time will tell.

With our SRAM programme, committed players, coaches, and with the support from various parties, including parents, we can make the sport our culture and a successful career. People will always have their own views but we need to believe in ourselves. Who would have thought that Nicol would be an eight-time world champion decades ago.

In this very tough time, let’s be positive, support one another and have the self-belief and courage to overcome the odds.

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