Wa’ad the squash champ: “The President’s support enabled me to represent Yemen.” “I hope to be a world champ but… !” “Why the private sector doesn’t sponsor Yemeni champs?” [Archives:1998/06/Sports]
It has became obvious that the Yemeni champs who live outside the country have started to gain good reputations in the sports field all over the world. Despite this, those who are inside Yemen do not achieve much. Definitely, the responsibility falls upon the officials in the sport’s field who are not fit for their positions. Nasim Hamid has conquered the boxing rings throughout the world. Today, another Yemeni champ secures such status in a game never played before in Yemen – squash. Wa’ad Badr Al-Hashimi is a 15-year old Yemeni who lives with his family in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Squash attracted him while he was 10 years old. By training, he was able to gain titles in the UAE and throughout the world. People started to ask about this champ and to consider the possibilities of his future. Wa’ad came to Sana’a to spend Eid Al-Fitr holiday. While being here, he did not forget to visit Yemen Times, who presented Wa’ad to the people from the beginning and we had this talk with him:
Q: How and with which club did you start playing squash? A: I started playing squash in the playing fileds of the petroleum company in which my father works in Abu Dhabi. My brother and I were trained at the hands of the Pakistani coach, Mr. Eqbal Khan who encouraged me to continue training. My brother quit his training early. For me, as I found it a very hard and interesting game, I continued my training and I secured good places in all the championships I participated in.
Q: What are the difficulties you find in squash? A: The squash field is very large. Therefore, it demands high physical capability and quick reactions to play this game.
Q: What championships have you won and what was the hardest match you played? A: The first championship I won was for 12 years old and under. Then I won the cup of the Water and Electricity Club. After that, I secured first place in Abu Dhabi’s championship for 13-15 year old champs. I have participated in juniors championships even though I was still 14 years old. I also won the UAE’s championship for 15-year old champs. I secured first place in the open championship for the golf club. In nearly 95% of the championships organized in the UAE I have secured first place. For the international championships, I secured first place in Asia’s championship for under 13 years old champs in Hong Kong, 1994. Several champs from Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Pakistan were there. I was the only Yemeni participating in the championship.
The hardest match I played was when I faced the Malaysian champ, whom I defeated at long last. After President Ali Abdullah Saleh directed the Ministry of Youth and Sport to support me, I was able to represent Yemen in Asia’s championship for squash which was organized in Malaysia, 1997. There, I secured the first place for 15 year old champions. During the same year, I participated in Hong Kong’s International Championship and secured second place because most of the participants were professionals and international champs of squash.
Q: Who paid the expenses of your journeys to participate in international championships before the President decided to do so? A: My father did, but he couldn’t afford to anymore. And since the president directed the Minister of Sport and Youth to pay for all my needs to continue training, I have been provided with the tickets to participate in the lastest championships organized in Hong Kong and Malaysia. All that I want from the Ministry of Youth and Sport is to support me as a Yemeni athlete just by offering free tickets.
Q: Have you received enough care and encouragement from the sport officials in the UAE? A: Although I am Yemeni, the Emirate newspaper and information agencies cover all the championships I participate in. They appreciate all my triumphs. I receive good care from the sport officials of the UAE.
Q: What are you looking forward to in order to achieve more in the future? A: Now I’m considered to be an Emirate champ. I’m looking forward to being a professional in squash and for that I have to be trained in countries advanced in squash, like Pakistan, Britain, Australia and Egypt. For that I have to play with world champs and I think that I’m on the way to achieve all that I want.
Q: Is there any championship you are going to participate in the near future? A: I received an invitation from the Japanese Squash Association to participate in the Japanese Open International Championship for squash March 25-27, 1998, which will be held in Tokyo. All that I need in order to participate in this championship is a free ticket to go there, as the ticket is very expensive. So I requested the Minister of Youth and Sport to manage that.
Q: Personally, how do you think sport in Yemen will be improved? A: First of all, the private sector must also sponsor sport activities. We see, for example, that the tickets of the Pakistani squash team are affered by the Pakistani Airlines. In eastern Asia, sports have been greatly improved because of the support given by the companies and banks of those counties. In return for that, the athlete has to wear a T-shirt that carries the name of the company or bank. What we find in Yemen is that the sport activities depend totally on the support given by the government, which is really not enough. If any private company undertakes to offer all the needed facilities to a sports team, there will be an actual improvement in sports. I hope this will happen in the future.