The 17-year-old Hamza Khan has made Pakistan proud by claiming victory in the World Junior Championship held in Melbourne, marking Pakistan’s return to squash supremacy after a 37-year hiatus.
However, amidst his jubilation, the young champion opened up about the challenging journey he endured due to the lack of support during the early stages of his career and during difficult times.
In an exclusive interview with Geo news Hamza Khan voiced his disappointment over the common belief that squash lacks players, asserting that there are, indeed, squash enthusiasts in Pakistan who need backing and encouragement. He credited his father for being his unwavering coach and supporter during both the highs and lows of his journey while lamenting that others deserted him during tough times, only to reappear after his victory.
Comparing the support for cricket, which enjoys immense popularity and resources in Pakistan, to that of squash, Khan expressed his dismay at the lack of backing for his chosen sport. He appealed to the government for support, particularly financial assistance, citing the challenges faced by players due to limited funds. One major obstacle was the federation’s refusal to provide tournament tickets, citing high costs, which left players struggling to finance their participation.
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Khan disclosed that he stood alone on the international stage, representing Pakistan as the sole player, while other nations boasted full teams of six players or more. He emphasized the need for a coach and physiotherapist during tournaments, particularly for handling potential injuries, but financial constraints prevented such essential support.
Although grateful for the support received from the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force, Khan underscored the pressing need for financial backing to meet the basic requirements of a professional squash player. The high cost of equipment, especially rackets priced at Rs40,000, posed a significant challenge for him.
Despite facing numerous obstacles, Khan’s exceptional achievement has not gone unnoticed. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan both reached out to congratulate and support the young prodigy. However, Khan asserted that he currently needs “financial support” to sustain his career and continue raising the nation’s name in international squash competitions.
As Pakistan celebrates Hamza Khan’s historic victory, his sincere plea for greater support sheds light on the struggles faced by aspiring squash players in the country. The call for increased financial assistance and recognition aims to foster talent and elevate squash to a prominent position in Pakistan’s sporting landscape.