It won�t be wrong to state that the single largest benefit of the South Asian Games (SAF) held at Guwahati in 2016 was the four international standard squash courts, constructed at the RG Baruah Sports Complex in Guwahati. Right from the inception of the Guwahati Squash Racket Association (GSRA), in 2015, it made concerted effort to organise coaching camps in Guwahati but due to financial constraints it has not been possible.
After the SAF games, GSRA (affiliated to Assam Squash Racket Association) lost no time to use these courts to train youngsters in the hitherto unknown game. The response from the young participants has been very encouraging from the initial stage.
GSRA organised its first ever coaching camp during the first week of March 2016. The initial problem of a suitable coach was compensated by some squash enthusiasts from Guwahati who voluntarily coached the young boys and girls without looking for any monetary compensation. Soon the GSRA contracted a Level I Certified coach from World Squash Federation. The coach and his team have been taking adequate interest to groom the budding players.
The inaugural ceremony of the Squash Courts was held on March 1, 2016 and on the same day 1st All Guwahati Squash Coaching Camp commenced in which 27 trainees from different Guwahati based schools and colleges took part. The coaching was provided by Gaurav of Tata Tea and Ashok Talukdar of Royal Global School. Both are Level I certified coaches of Squash Racket Federation of India.
The first executive committee meeting of the organisation, presided by Guwahati East MLA Siddartha Bhattacharya who is also the president of the GSRA, was held on August 5, 2016. The meeting deliberated various measures to encourage the game amongst youth of the North East.
Although this game hitherto unknown to the common people it has tremendous impact in the Army circle and in tea gardens. At the international level also, India was not performing very well. Jahangir Khan�s family for four generation has been dominating this game in the world circuit for Pakistan. But gradually India is catching up very fast with boys like Saurav Ghosal and girls like Jyoshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal doing very well in the international arena.
During the last 18 months, GSRA has organised several coaching camps and tournaments where players from Meghalaya, Manipur besides Assam have participated which is indeed a very healthy sign for this emerging game.
Dalip Tripathy, a Level II certified coach of World Squash Federation has also visited the courts for a day and gave some valuable tips to the players during his short stint. Sujat Baruah, presently working as a level I coach in Philadelphia, USA had also imparted a week-long coaching to the players.
However, in spite of sustained efforts by the GSRA, particularly by Dhruba Jyoti Kalita, secretary of the organisation, a lot of work has to be done to promote the game and nurture talents which are readily available to compete at the national level. The biggest hurdle had been that while the GSRA is making optimum use of the courts to train youngsters, the use of the courts by the organisation is yet to be formalised. The second major problem remains the financial constrains.
To encourage maximum participation of the youngsters, only a nominal fee is collected. On the other hand monthly expenditure especially on electricity, rent and the monthly salaries of coach and allied staff is indeed very high. A little support and goodwill from the State body as well as of the government will go long way in promoting the game. Presently the GSRA is training a few selected players for the upcoming national level competitions to be held at Noida and Mumbai.
To conclude, it can be said that the Squash Courts have been a big boon to the sports lovers of Assam, particularly to Guwahati. GSRA appeals to all sports enthusiasts to ensure maximum use of this unique opportunity.