Olympic Recognition Important for Squash's Growth as Sport, Feels Former World No.1 David Palmer
David Palmer remains one of the finest ever players to pick up a squash racket. The former Aussie star is currently in India, providing training to underprivileged children and he also wants to break the myths associated with the sport.
David Palmer along with the select group of children he is training.
New Delhi: David Palmer remains one of the finest ever players to pick up a squash racket. The former Aussie star is currently in India, providing training to underprivileged children and he also wants to break the myths associated with the sport.
The sport is still considered a luxury, with its popularity still restricted to the elite few. Palmer, however, feels that it is more a case of the image that has been built rather than the reality.
"It is true that squash as a game is still regarded as a luxury sport in India, however, the truth is that it does not really take a lot to play the sport. Equipment and the set-up cost of squash is fairly inexpensive compared to other popular sports.
"Efforts are required by all stakeholders involved in making it more accessible and mainstream. One thing that I am 100 percent sure of is that when people get involved with squash, it becomes a life sport for them. Introducing these kids to the sport at an early age through schools, clubs or such camps can definitely be one way of doing it," he said, talking exclusively to News18.
The Australian has won the Super Series Title, along with the World Open and the prestigious British Open. The former World no.1 though feels that future Squash stars deserve to get a chance to play at the Olympics and that it still remains the biggest dream for any athlete.
"Squash has come a long way with global audience and technical innovations around it, making it an immensely popular sport today. For any sportsman to win Olympics is the dream that they see for themselves. For any individual player and for the development of Squash as a sport, it is very much needed that it should be a part of the Olympics. Squash is already played in every major multi-sport event, including the Commonwealth Games, the Pan Am Games, and the Asian Games. But competing in the Olympic Games would be the most important opportunity for a player and I hope that the next generation of players get this opportunity."
Palmer is in the country as a part of an initiative by Renew Power to increase the awareness about the sport. Talking about his experience so far, Palmer added that he feels enriched emotionally and mentally every time he visits the country.
"My experience of being in India and experiencing the diverse culture here is always valuable. I have visited India for over 22 years now and I always feel enriched emotionally and mentally, every time I visit this country. I genuinely feel that this country is full of talent that just needs to be identified, nurtured and brought to the international stage. And this is exactly why I was here in India this time, providing training to the young talent in the country and contributing to the growth of squash as a sport, " he added.
The former World no.1 added that India will have a big role to play if Squash is to become a global sport and with the fan base for different sports growing, consistent performances at international levels will help catapult the sport into people's imagination.
"Squash is gaining increased interest in the nation thanks to impressive performances by Indian players. As of today, it is a rapidly developing sport in India and the recent successes have only helped increase its popularity. It is true that it might not attain the cult status that cricket enjoys in next few years, but consistent performances at an International level can help the sport grow," he said.
He also added that the Professional Squash Association shouldn't hesitate in targeting India as a big market.
"For Squash we need to add many things to increase its popularity among masses. It is just about getting the right recognition and the right network to support it.
A lot of young talent is showcasing strong inclination towards the sport. The authorities on their part, are supportive and taking efforts to take India to a global stature in this sport. Some interesting initiatives, like an India specific tournament involving the heavy weights from squash from across the world would be interesting. Similarly, participation by Indian talent in global event and what they achieve can help in making the sport popular and mainstream," he said, signing off.
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