02 Aug 2023
The hard work for Aspire Academy’s squash student-athletes has continued over the summer holidays with competitions in Europe and a training camp in Egypt.
They played at junior events in Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands where their hard work and training saw them win a total of seven medals (2 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze).
The summer training camps and tournaments have helped two current student-athletes Talal Al Badr and Khalid Al-Hammadi and graduate Salem Al-Malki prepare for the 30th Asian Junior Individual Championships.
The trio have been picked by the Qatar Squash Federation (QSF) to represent the nation at the event in China which begins on 16 August.
All three took part in the Italian Junior Squash Open, where current student-athlete Omar Farag won the under-13’s title and recent graduate Yousef Farag claimed a bronze in the under-19’s.
Omar Farag continued his fine form as he was the runner-up in the under-13’s at the Portuguese Junior Open while in the same category Talal Al Badr finished third.
In the under-15’s Marwan Hussein, also a current student-athlete, finished as runner-up, while Khalid Al-Hammadi was third in the under-17’s.
Yousef Farag emerged as the winner of the under-19 event in Portugal.
Salem Al-Malki was also chosen by the QSF as Qatar’s only representative at the World Squash Federation’s World Junior Championships, for under-19 players.
He lost in the second round to Colombia’s Juan Jose Torres Lara, who would go on to finish in 5th place overall at the event in Melbourne. While Salem Al Malki went on to finish 55th overall out of more than 100 players.
Aspire Academy’s acting Head Squash Coach Francesco Busi says while the medals are a reward for the effort put in by the boys, the opportunity to play on an international stage against high-quality opponents is a valuable experience to help them develop.
“It's so important for these youngsters because, after a couple of months of training, they need to test themselves by participating in tournaments,” the coach explained.
“It is where they can compete with the best Europeans, and sometimes with the best Asian players to improve their level and understand exactly where they should get better.”
“And for them to win medals at the tournaments so they realise the effort put in during training can produce results.”
The coach also added exposure to new coaching techniques and different styles of play is a key part of developing himself and the players.
“It is absolutely essential to see how the other federations are working, how the other top players in the world are performing so I am also developing,” he explained.
“So it’s not just to compete with them but also understand what they should do in the training to be able to beat them.”
“They also need to compete on a mental level too and for example to get used to playing long matches, to take on players that play different styles, and this makes them realise that they need to improve also their resilience.”
As well as the international competitions the QSF also organised a three-week training camp in Egypt. The players enjoyed some intensive training sessions and their fitness levels also improved as they prepare for the Asian Junior Individual Championships.
The players enjoyed some rest and time with their families and now ahead of the new term, their preparations are continuing at Aspire Academy and at QSF.