‘My Point’

My Point: Chapter 1

Chapter 2 sees SRAM director Major Maniam looking back at February and reflecting on the biggest story to go down that month – Nicol David’s retirement announcement.

There’s no doubt that Nicol David’s announcement to retire at the end of the 2018/2019 Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour season has a big impact. It goes without saying that Nicol has leaves a very tall order for the squash scene in Malaysia and it is going to be very difficult for anyone to emulate what she has achieved.

What we have in Malaysia today, is by and large down to Nicol’s contribution to the sport. She has brought Malaysian squash onto the world map. In fact she has put squash onto the map of sport in Malaysia. Without what she has done for Malaysian squash in the past we will not be what we are today. I believe, as I’ve also said many times, what she has achieved is extraordinary and it’s something that no player in the present era can achieve. Many will come close, but that’s about it.

But above all that, not only is Nicol’s achievement great, but she is great as a person too. She is very easy to talk to, always smiling and there is just no air about her. And because of that, she is well suited to do the things she has planned for the future. Her catchphrase ‘The Dream Continues’ – encompasses getting involved with the PSA to promote the game; starting her foundation in Malaysia to enrich and empower women through sports and squash and giving motivation talks.

The nation applauds and acknowledges her achievements and will provide just rewards. It should be an incentive for other players because the government is now looking into supporting players who have served selflessly for the country and are now at the tail-end of their playing careers.

I know that a lot of athletes have faded away after retiring and are having a hard time in life. Back when I was in the army, we were given options to take up resettlement courses three months before we leave the army. This is where army personnel learn new skill sets that will help them settle back into civilian life. Doing something like this for athletes will be really good and I believe Nicol has played a role in creating a sort of flutter for the government to look into.

I certainly want to take this opportunity to wish Nicol all the best and that SRAM is always there to help her in any way we can.
Of course there is the question on whether expectations and interest in squash will wane in Malaysia once Nicol leaves. I believe it’s a yes and no answer. Yes, we may never get the kind of results that Nicol has delivered over the years. But no, because I’m also confident that we have players who will still deliver results. Maybe it won’t be of the same magnitude as Nicol’s but it will still be results that will get the public to sit up and take note. I would say the ball is certainly in our court and we have to get out there and get the results.

Of course Nicol aside, we may also have a few other senior players who may retire soon. Nafiizwan for a start, has indicated that he may quit after the Asian Individual Championships and is interested in coaching although he hasn’t announced a date. I have encouraged him to join our team at the National Training Centre. I am keen to have him as a coach as I believe he will add value to the team. He is easy to get along with and the other National players look up to him and obviously will give him due respect. I am also fairly confident that he will learn the nuances of coaching fast and certainly hope to have him in my team soon.

To be continued…

My Point: Chapter 1

SRAM director Major Maniam looks back at the start of January and how the results has been for Malaysian squash. Read Chapter 1 to pick apart Major’s chain of thoughts.

We obviously got off to a good start in 2019. The results at the British Junior Open were great even though we didn’t get as many titles compared to 2018. It’s important to note that we have made a lot of progress with several players going deep into the tournament. In fact, we had 16 players in the quarter-finals, seven in the semi-finals, five in the finals and eventually two winners.

This was followed by the Asian Junior Team Championships in which the girls grabbed gold as expected while the boys finished third. To be honest the boys did not play great and were a bit of a disappointment. I honestly expected them to win and their biggest contender should have been Pakistan. As it turned out we were out of form and lost matches that we should have won.

But we have to put that behind us now as the focus is now on getting the players ready for Asian Junior Individual Championships that is held in Macau in June. Then there is also the World Junior Championships that we are hosting in August. We certainly have high hopes on the girls to do well in team event. I believe the target should be no less than a semi-final finish in order to keep up our proud track record of recent years. There could however be changes to the team lineup as the likes of Aira Azman, Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi and M. Kiroshanna are already knocking on the doors. We are also placing high hopes on Aifa Azman and Siow Yee Xian to do well in the individual competition.

If there was one thing that proved to be a downside for us in January, that would be the news that head coach Peter Genever is leaving. I’m saddened by his decision to leave as I’ve found him to be a thorough professional who has command and respect of both players and coaches in the last two and a half years I’ve worked with him. We’ve had our differences but we shared them in a professional way and we always had amicable solutions for the betterment of team and players. I really find him to be very professional and fair. Some may think he’s harsh but he’s harsh because he goes straight to the point and doesn’t mollycoddle the players. He can look at you and tell you that your game is not there but he will also tell you why. He established a cordial coach-player relationship so some players enjoy working with him and his honesty helps people understand things better and that’s what I’m going to miss about him.

PG is however not cutting ties completely with us and I certainly appreciate that. He’s willing to help out our Malaysian players if they ever need to stop in England for a stint. He is also giving his input on the possible replacement and working together with Ajaz Azmat and Andrew Cross who will temporarily take over his duties once he’s gone. I’m truly thankful to his commitment and I am going to try and make the transition as smooth as possible whilst also getting a replacement in as soon as possible.

To be continued…