“Many retired when they were 21 because there was no avenue for them to be involved in competitions. It is a pity as they have many years of squash in them.
“Juniors also do not get chances to improve their game as they have limited opportunities. But with the Malaysian Squash Circuit in place, several retired players have come forward to be active. The juniors get a good chance to play against these seniors.
“The prize money offered is also attractive and we are confident the circuit will help the development and promotion of squash in the country.
“The circuit will revitalise squash in the states. The interest among the local players will also increase. It will also create a competitive platform for the transition of the juniors to the senior ranks and then to the professional squash circuit,’’ said Azlan.
The first leg of the circuit was held in Kemaman, Terengganu. Former international Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, who hails from Terengganu, emerged as the champion in the men’s category while another Terengganu lass Siti Munirah Jusoh was the winner in the women’s category.
The second leg was held in Johor Baru. There was an upset in the men’s category where Sarawak’s Sanjay Singh Chal, a student at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), scored an impressive win over second seeded Choong Kam Hing from Perak to win the top spot while international Delia Arnold defeated Siti Munirah in the women’s final.
The third leg, played in Negri Sembilan, had several foreign players. Among them were Max Lee from Hong Kong and Nicholas Mueller from Switzerland and Line Hansen from Denmark.
The semi-finals and finals were played at the Paroi Sports Complex and a glass court was installed. Mueller became the champion after a hard-fought five game victory over Nafiizwan while Delia upset Hansen.
After the three legs, Kam Hing is leading the rankings with earnings of RM4,060 while Siti Munirah is tops in the women’s ranking with RM2,720.
The fourth leg of the circuit will be held in Terengganu from Friday. The remaining legs are in Kota Baru ( April 19-21); Putrajaya (May 17-19); Malacca (June 14-16); Penang (July 5-7); Pahang (23-25) while the grand final is at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil from Sept 13-15.
The circuit is supported by the Youth and Sports Ministry, National Sports Council, National Sports Institute and Tourism Malaysia. The sponsors are ASB Squash Courts, Sportspin, Ashaway and Maxis.
Azlan, who has represented Malaysia in all major squash championships, SEA Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, said the circuit was a follow-up to the Azlan Iskandar Squash Academy (Aisa) initiated last year.
“We want to be involved in grassroots development as well. We are prepared to venture into the rural areas as there are many talented players to be nurtured,’’ said Azlan.
Aisa’s vision is to make squash assessible to the public through coaching programmes, classes, clinics and squash camps. It started with three centres in Kemaman, Seremban and Kuching. Another seven centres will be established by the end of the year.
Azlan said the centres would provide coaching opportunities to local squash players.
“Senior players will be encouraged to join our centres as coaches. We will also be organising about four competitions a year at each location. Our aim is to create a big pool of squash players for the states as well as the country,’’ said Azlan.
Sportspin have also establisheda website www.nationalsquashcircuit.com.my with details of the players, rankings and competition schedule and gallery.
*Sumber Dari The Star