SRFI, HCL to transform India’s Squash ecosystem in 5 yrs

Chennai, July 12 (Representative) The Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) and HCL, a USD 11.5 billion global conglomerate today announced new initiatives as part of the HCL Squash Podium Program to significantly improve the squash ecosystem in India over the next five years. The multi-pronged program will nurture existing senior and junior Squash players and help them finish at the podium at major international events including the Commonwealth and Asian Games. The program will also help enhance coaching standards and encourage and identify the next generation of Squash players in the country through grass- roots initiatives, SRFI Secretary-General Cyrus Poncha and HCL Brand Vice President and Head Rajat Chandolia told a press conference. The HCL Squash Podium Program will host multiple initiatives including high performance camp for Commonwealth Games and World Juniors, hosting PSA tournaments in India, broadbase the sport at the grassroot level, holding of HCL Indian Junior Open and multiple coaching camps and referee clinics.

They said a two-week performance camp began here for the upcoming CWG games and will be held till July 25 for seniors and juniors with top national and international coaches, including Chris Walker, Gregory Gaultier and Sebastien Bonmalais. These camps will be geared towards improving game strategy and tactics, strength, conditioning and nutritional direction. Individual player assessment reports will be created during these camps by leveraging sports science, to offer customized guidance to each player and help them perform better. Graeme Everard, an experienced physiotherapist from England will accompany the players for the Commonwealth Games, starting July 25th. They said HCL and SRFI will organize multi-city PSA tournaments in India for both men and women to help Indian players gain international ranking points and the right exposure from competing against some of the best international players.

This will also help build and strengthen the next rung of Indian players. At the grass root level, HCL and SRFI will work to broad-base squash and increase participation by identifying and nurturing untapped talent across the country. Talent at the grassroots level will be identified and nurtured through inter-school tournaments and local clubs. As part of this initiative, HCL will support institutions to build squash courts, offer curriculum and technical support to institutions with existing squash courts, enhance coaching standards and ultimately reward players with ranking points and exposure to move to the top of their game. They said the HCL Indian Junior Open will be conducted to increase the number of participants in the junior category. This will be organized as a Platinum event under the Asian Squash Federation (ASF) calendar (the highest level championship in the Asian Circuit) and will be rated as a 6-star tournament by SRFI.

The top players from this tournament will receive ranking points which will add up to their junior Asian rankings in the relevant age group. Cyrus said “Indian Squash is gaining popularity as a competitive sport with the success of players like Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal and Saurav Ghoshal securing important international wins for the country. “Our joint effort with HCL, has helped India rise to the third place behind Egypt and the UK among countries with the highest globally ranked players. In less than a year of launching the program, Indian players with world rankings increased to 54. This is a testimony to the powerful impact committed corporates such as HCL bring to the sporting ecosystem”, he said. “Over the next five years, we would like to build a strong community of squash talent to enable India to dominate the world stage”, he said.