Egypt, a force to be reckoned with in the world of squash, has consistently showcased exceptional talent and unparalleled success on both the regional and international stages. With a strong focus on nurturing junior players, the country has become a breeding ground for future champions.
In an exclusive interview, Andrew Shoukry, a national head coach and the founder of Shoukry Squash Academy, provides insights into what sets Egypt apart and unveils the elements that contribute to their unparalleled dominance in the sport.
Powerful Competition and Tournament Structure
Shoukry highlights the intense competition that Egyptian players face from an early age. The multitude of tournaments, with players often participating in two to three events per month, fosters a highly competitive environment. Additionally, allowing top players to compete in multiple age groups, exposing them to more matches and seasoned opponents, pushing their physical boundaries and honing their skills.
Superior Coaching and Training Environment
Egypt boasts a pool of highly skilled coaches, many of whom were former professional players. Their wealth of knowledge and experience is passed down to the next generation of players, fueling their development. The concentration of squash communities in Cairo and Alexandria provides a unique advantage, allowing players to train together, access numerous courts, and benefit from the guidance of quality coaches. In contrast, players in other countries often face challenges due to the sport’s fragmented presence.
The Role of Practice Matches
The substantial player base in Egypt, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria, facilitates the organization of practice matches, enhancing the overall training experience. Moreover, the gender integration in training sessions proves beneficial, with girls training with boys to fortify their game, and boys gaining exposure to different playing styles and mentalities, enhancing their adaptability on the court.
Inspiration from Role Models
One distinguishing aspect of Egyptian squash is the close proximity between aspiring juniors and professional players. Many juniors have the opportunity to watch their role models train and even play against them. This exposure fuels their ambition and drives their determination to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
The Role of Mentality and Parental Support
Shoukry emphasizes the significant role played by the mentality of Egyptian parents and the overall focus on squash in the country. Unlike in some other nations where juniors may quit after reaching a certain level, Egyptian parents and players maintain a mindset geared towards pursuing a professional career and emulating their squash idols. This unwavering dedication propels them to strive for excellence.
In a remarkable display of dominance in this year’s British Junior Open, the second most prestigious tournament following the World Junior Open, all 10 champions in the five age groups were Egyptian. Notably, six of the finals were exclusively contested by Egyptian players.
Egypt’s unparalleled dominance in squash emerges from a combination of factors: a highly competitive tournament structure, exceptional coaching, a conducive training environment, inspiration from professional role models, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. As the nation continues to produce remarkable talents, it cements its position as the giant of squash, setting new benchmarks and inspiring future generations of players worldwide.