Allan key to success for Singapore Squash Rackets Association
SSRA appoints Malaysian veteran Soyza as technical director as it eyes 2022 Asiad squash gold
National squash players are in for some "tough love" in the new year.
Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA) president Dr Woffles Wu confirmed yesterday that Malaysian veteran Allan Soyza will replace Sandra Wu as its technical director.
The 40-year-old former national player was Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia's director of coaching from 2012 to 2014 and its national men's coach for three years before that.
The Malaysian media described him as a man with an "in-your-face and no-nonsense approach", but Dr Wu said that is exactly what Singapore squash needs.
"I have known him for a long time... We (the SSRA exco) also know that he is a no-nonsense guy and we are going into this (partnership) with our eyes open," he said, in a telephone interview from Hong Kong yesterday.
"We really appreciated what Sandra did to counter the decline of the sport here over the years, but we are getting a bit more ambitious now and want someone to take things to the next level."
Soyza will work with the current coaches, who includes national coach Ibrahim Gul, towards the target of winning a gold medal at the 2022 Asian Games.
"My role is to oversee the national senior team and also help improve their junior development plan," said Soyza, in a recent interview with The Star newspaper in Malaysia.
"However I'm not there to dismantle their current system. Rather, I'm looking to work on what they have already planned and make some tweaks.
"It's a challenge because their senior players are part-timers and it will be a while before they are up to Malaysia's standards.
"But the community's support for squash is strong and there is enough interest in the sport. The juniors in Singapore are also not worse off compared to Malaysia.
"The gap starts to widen when they are only 15 or 16 as they will be focusing more on their studies."
Singapore has only a small pool of professional players, of whom men's player Vivian Rhamanan, ranked 172nd in the world, is the most prominent.
First on SSRA's high-performance agenda is the South-east Asia Games in Kuala Lumpur next year.
It aims to win at least one gold medal, which will equal their haul of titles at the 2015 Games in Singapore.
Apart from its high-performance plans, it also plans to form a commercial arm to hold courses for squash enthusiasts, from beginners to serious amateurs, in a bid to boost its coffers.
Dr Wu said: "We'd never be able to wean ourselves off government funding, but we also want to show that we are not just standing by the roadside and waiting for a hand-out.
"We have to be proactive and do something to be more self-sufficient."