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28th June:
This time last year Framboise interviewed a promising youngster, Pakistan's Shahid Zaman ... since then he's moved into the top 20, become Pakistan #1 and last week claimed victory in the $25k Pakistan circuit #2 in Lahore ...

 from May 2004   

Nephew of famous former British Open champion Qamar Zaman.

In 2000, he is ranked 126
in the world. In 2002, 24.

Then he slips down to 43.

He is now back to 35.

Ups and downs.
In and out.
And a comeback.

At 22 years old.


Remember the name Shahid Zaman though. The onlooking Jahangir said, "this boy is fast - he's destined to go far - and quickly!"  His uncle Qamar would be proud.

Robert Edwards,
Qatar Classic 2001

One of the fast-rising band of Pakistani squash players,
Shahid Zaman is now based in England.

Framboise talks to Shahid himself,
his coach, manager and mentor.



From Pakistan to England ...

This building is the Balochistan's provincial assembly hall,
in the background the mountain called in local language
"Char shakh " meaning "four tops".

the player

How many brothers and sisters?
I have four brothers and two sisters.

Are they still in Pakistan?
Yes, except for my younger brother, who lives in London, and who I see quite often.

Do you live with your brother?

No, I live with Uncle [meaning somebody older than you are, usually from your family, whom you love and respect, in this case Mo Yasin, his coach].

Linda Davie
the mentor

When did you meet Shahid?
I first met him at the Junior British Open in January 1997. He was 15 and played in the U/16. He arrived on his own. He had been picked up at Heathrow airport by a complete stranger, driven to Sheffield and just left to get on with things.

And your mother’s instinct took over, didn’t it?
I guess I’m the mother figure, yes! I was on duty at Hallamshire Squash Club and did what any person would do and that is take an interest and look after him! He got to the final and unfortunately lost mainly due to the fact it was all new to him and I believe he was overawed by the occasion.

When did you start to
really know the boy?

He travelled over again the year after this and he played at Abbeydale in the U/19 aged 17. This was last time he played the British Open Junior. At the end of the tournament he asked me to help him. He wanted to phone his Uncle. I looked at the number and instantly recognised it as Bader Zaman. This man coached my two daughters at Prestbury SC a few years previous. I obviously took to Shahid and the relationship developed more as he stayed with Bader, for a couple of months, close to my home.

We then met at Men’s World Team Events in Cairo and Melbourne.

Shahid had a few
bad months, didn’t he?

He did try to settle in this country in 2000 but for various reasons, things did not work out. Any junior has their work cut out trying to make the leap into the senior scene, never mind trying to do it in foreign country.

In your opinion, what were
the reasons of his failure?

Firstly....he is naive young man and did not realise the commitment it takes to make it work in this or any country. He was very young and got very homesick. With no financial backing, no base club to work from and not having the opportunity to practise with his peers, it all adds up to failure.

So, has the situation
changed now?

I spoke to Air Marshall Rashid Caleem in Vienna and he was aware of Shahid's problems in the past. He assured me that the Federation would do everything in their power to help Shahid. Shahid is now in England, training at present under the watchful eye of Mo Yasin. We managed to sign him for Manchester Northern (Lawn Tennis and Squash Club) in Manchester and he played for them in the North West Counties Squash League. It was difficult to sign for a National League team but Nottingham Squash Club signed him, albeit he never managed to turn out for them

So, what is next
for him now?

He has been back to Pakistan for trials and finished top. This obviously pleased all of us as we do not expect results just yet.

We obviously wish him to continue playing in North West Counties and hopefully play in the National League next season. Due to NSL regulations with Shahid's PSA present ranking of 35 he is an asset.

He has to gain experience and play in as many PSA tournaments as possible.

I should also mention that Paul Walters like me sees possibilities in this young man and has offered to help him.

Where do you see that
young man going?

I believed at one point Shahid had the making of a top 5 player....

He had confidence, a wide variety of shots, and quickness around the court.

He has to make it work this time and fortunately appears to be on the right track

He has slipped a lot....will he make it … I hope so.

The first time you arrived
in England, what was
most difficult for you?

Well, I didn’t speak a word of English when I arrived in 1997! I met Linda Davie in Sheffield. I was very young then, just 15, and I was competing in the under 16 competition.

As I came from Pakistan all by myself, communicating was very difficult for me. Linda helped me a lot, she seemed to understand everything I said! But that language problem didn’t prevent me from arriving in the final!

What was your first
impression of England?

I arrived on New Year’s Eve, and it was beautiful everywhere, but what really amazed me, was the television programs!

Now that your English has improved tremendously, do you find life in England difficult?
Not at all! In Pakistan, I come from Quetta, in the North of Pakistan. We have a lot of mountains, a lot of snow, it’s very very cold in winter. So I quite enjoy English weather.

What? Where did you live, in the North Pole?... Seriously, apart from the weather, do you find it difficult to live over here?
When I came here the first time, yes, it was difficult to adapt, but now, I’ve been coming to England 20, 30 times, so, I’m fine now. And you know, I came here to train, I came here to become a good player, and that’s all I see at the moment. The rest doesn’t matter.

how do you survive?

I have some income from PSA tournaments, when I get good results, like when I arrive in the final of the COAS International in Islamabad, Pakistan, only to lose to Adrian Grant in 5 set, 15/12 in the 5th, and from the National League (I play for Manchester Northern in the North West Counties League).

Otherwise, I’m staying with Uncle (Mo Yasin), who is a very generous man, and doesn’t ask me for any money in return.

I was told that you had put
on a lot of weight on a 2 year period. Is there a reason for that?

Yes, basically, I was having a bad time back in Pakistan with personal problems, I was very depressed, very stressed, so I decided to get away from there and come here to try and regain my world ranking.

I saw you back a few weeks ago, and it seems that already, you have lost quite a lot of weight…
I have, I have, it’s because I’ve been training hard.

Mo is killing you, isn’t he?
[Shahid and Mo Yasin laugh]
You see, one day, I want to be number one, inch’ Allah [God Willing], so if I train hard, if I work hard and inch’ Allah I will. So that is why I’m here.

What is your ambition
for the next year?

I want to be in the top 5.

And by the time you are 25,
in 4 years, where do you
see yourself?

I hope I will be married by then! My mother and father told me that, if I like someone, I’ll have to introduce her to them, whether she lives here or in Pakistan, and that they would talk it over. But at the moment, my career comes first!

Shahid, are you happy now?
Yes, I’m happy, I feel very free. I’m very happy!

Shahid was runner-up in the
COAS International
in February 2004

And was Champion of the
Pakistan Circuit #1
in Lahore, on May 9th.

Mo Yasin
the coach

Former world number 2,  famous for being the man who prevented Jonah Barrington's bid to equal Hashim's record of seven successive British Opens in an aggravating quarter final in 1973. He later coached Qamar Zaman and Jansher Khan. He is now coaching and looking after Shahid.

What training schedule have you prepared for Shahid?
He already has the good length, the good strokes, so we are working on his fitness and I’m concentrating mainly on his stamina / speed / stretching. He is training on court, an hour per day minimum, three to four times a week then he goes to the gym and runs outdoor as well.

In your opinion, what is going to be Shahid’s game, Shahid’s style?
Shahid presents the same qualities Jahangir had, his style is very close to the legendary player. I think we need to encourage that, and it’s absolutely vital that Shahid be 100% fit to become world champion.

How different was your coaching with Jansher?
It was totally different. Jansher was very fit to start with, and he needed to work on his strokes. He used to lob the ball very slow, but he didn’t have the shots, the strokes, the drop shots. Basically, he didn’t have the technique. Shahid has got the technique, he need the fitness.

Do you travel with him?
No, at the moment I’m not. But I hope I will in the very near future. That way, I will be able to take notes, to see where he is weak, where he is making the mistakes. I would like also to be able to video his matches, and working with him to study precisely what he does wrong, and what he should do. It should make things easier for him.

What is Shahid’s potential?
He has got all the ingredients needed in squash, but not everything is in the right order! So now, he has got to play a lot of matches, a lot of tournaments. He must apply the training I’m giving him into matches, because that’s what he is lacking at the moment. But inch’ Allah, he has the potential to be world number one. But he needs to work hard, very hard.

Shahid had his ups and downs, didn’t he?
Yes, for 2 years, back home, he was not happy, he was stressed, had a lot of problems. But when he came back, he made up his mind. He did come to me twice before, you know, but he wasn’t training properly, on and off, on and off. He wasn’t committed to squash. But this time, when he came, he asked me “Uncle, would you train me?” “No”, I replied, I won’t. You let me down twice before, you went back to Pakistan”. He did promise that this time, he was really committed. So it’s actually my wife to talked me into it “Go on, give him another chance”, she said. So I did. And since then, he has been good as gold. He also went to Pakistan a few days ago for the trials, beat all the Pakistanis players, and is now Pakistani player number one. [Officially, Mansoor Zaman is still number one, but Shahid did beat him a few times now].

What are your
goals for him?

In a year’s time, I think he should be in the top 8. In 18months to two years, I think he could be world champion.

Do you think I should ask for his autograph then?
Wait for another two years!

Paul Walters
the Manager

Since when have you been taking care of Shahid?
I set my company up in January 2004. The players I represent primarily are Lee Beachill, James Willstrop, Anthony Ricketts, Peter Barker and Adrian Grant. A few months ago, Linda Davie came to me and said that Shahid needed some help. Shahid is somebody with Dunlop I have been with a long time. I think he deserves a chance, I think he’s got the ability, he just hasn’t had the right direction. So what I said was that I was going to help him, and should his career develop, I would then take him more under my wing. At the moment, it’s more of a flexible arrangement. Once he gets to the top ten players, I would take him on on a full time basis.

How would you describe your position vis--vis Shahid?
With Lee, James and the other players is that we already have equipment supply contracts in place, so Lee is with Dunlop, Hi-Tec, E-squash, James is with Hi-Tec and E-squash etc, so the opportunity there is to look for sponsors from outside of the sport and to look at promoting them at a wider scale. With Shahid, it’s very different because he doesn’t have those basics blocs in place, so the first step is to say, well, let’s put a contract in place, the footwear, the clothing, the rackets, which, if you develop in the game, will give you the monetary return. Those contracts are geared to him achieving the top ten rankings. So as soon as he achieves the top ten rankings, he will then receive bigger contracts and that’s when our management player relationship will be more formalised.

What is your next step?
My job now is to try and to raise his profile, so hopefully, in a year’s time, when he gets into the top ten, no only is he a good player, but he also has a higher profile as well.

How do you 'raise a player’s profile'?
For example, we set up a player’s website. You see a lot of players wearing T-shirts with their website on. Also cooperation with people like Hi-Tec, Dunlop.

What do you think of Shahid from a squash point of view?
He is good. He has put a lot of weight on, and he struggles with the direction and he is probably being guilty of just listening to too many people. He doesn’t speak good English, he can be easily misguided, and deep down, I like him. When I set my company up, I always said that I’ll only work with people who I’ll like. If that means I don’t like the world number 1 personally, I won’t work with him. If it means I like the world number 40, I’ll work with him. I think that to promote someone, it must be more than just ranking. Fundamentally, Shahid is a nice kid and I would hate to see him misguided. If I can play a small part in helping to put the basics together, fantastic.

What are his faults?
I believe that he doesn’t have a weapon. All the top players have a weapon. Peter Nicol, it’s his ability to retrieve; John White, he has got the shots; Lee Beachill, his ability to change the pace. Shahid has everything, but he doesn’t have a weapon. As soon as he develops that weapon, and has a belief in that weapon, then, he will be able to establish himself.

What does Shahid need right now?
He needs the right off court support, day to day he needs someone to train with, and quality people to play against. He has got to be in that right environment. All the players need a team around them. What I don’t want to do is over promise to Shahid. We have got to find out if he wants it enough. If he wants it, he’ll do the work, he’ll do the training. His pedigree, his family, is second to none.

He has got a wonderful touch, he has got a tremendous amount of talent, he has got everything there. He just needs to have belief.


Shahid's Ranking History

  99 00 01 02 03 04 05
J   126 66 32 32 42 21
F   125 70 31 28 43 18
M   120 65 33 30 35 20
A   117 65 32 31 35 15
M   116 52 26 35 36 17
J   116 52 24 34 36 17
J 174 105 53 24 35 36  
A 174 105 53 25 35 37  
S 174 102 36 34 34 39  
O 174 72 43 27 40 44  
N 165 80 32 28 41 31  
D 131 78 34 29 42 31  

from May 2004