Qatar PSA World Championship  ē  06-14 Dec 2012  ē 12-21 Nov 2014 ē  Doha  ē

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Doha En Bref #4
  Fram tells you Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds ..

SAME HOTEL...

For a few years now, we've been staying in the same lovely hotel in Doha, which seems to have changed name over the years.

Although the people are the same, at the restaurant - same adorable waiters, chef de rang, receptionists - all ready to help and provide us with gallons of tea for me,  the concierge staff, etc, you can really feel the upgrade everywhere.

The food quality is higher, the decoration is superb, they seem to have more people in attendance, as in, whatever you ask for, laundry, house cleaning, you have somebody at your door within minutes.

And something really great for SquashSite too, is that the internet connection in the room is really fast, didn't stop once, and is provided for us free of charge compliments of QSF.

PS. If you read this article last year, I still haven't managed to try the pool, but I found the way of the massage salon....

  ASPIRE, TAKE 2....

After a glance at Doha's back to the future, then a visit of the Aspire zone, the last part of our trip. A meeting with Geoff Hunt, that honestly doesn't need much presentation, he won everything that can be won, and many many times, and to be more precise, 4 world Champion titles, and 8 British Open Champion. (interview 2011)

How did it all started?

In the middle of 2006, I had resigned from Head Coach at the AIS (Australian Institute of Sports), I was still mentor to the Head Coach, but I didnít know exactly what I was going to do.

I saw the ad for a head coaching job in Aspire here in Qatar. And the philosophy of it really interested me, I liked the idea of a home grow champion. Too many countries were going for the importing of champions concept, I thought having home athletes was a much more interesting basis to work on.

So, I applied for the job, and got an interview. And when I arrived here, I was, like you were, amazed by what I saw, the venues, grounds, just astonishing really. And also, I was so happy that the squash was actually included in such a program, it not being a major sport, itís often left out.

I was also impressed by the Director of Sports, what he had to say. And at the end of the meeting, I was proposed the job! So I said to my wife, ďwell, Iím going to have to consider this pretty seriously then!Ē

And that what happened!

You seem very happy here...

Itís been the most rewarding experience, I would have never imagined I would live around here, and itís been a revelation really.

The working conditions are pretty amazing, even if itís sometimes a bit frustrating, because the boys donít realise how lucky they are and donít take it seriously enough. But on the other end, Iím happy with the impact Iíve had on the sport, and I hope I can keep on doing so a bit longer!

You do work closely with the QSF, don't you?

Yes, the cooperation with the Qatar Squash Federation is total, and it makes things so easy, there is no conflict, everybody is working in the same direction, itís a real bonus.

Is your family here with you?

Well, when I arrived initially, we were supposed to come with my boy who was at the time 14, but with my wife, we decided it was better for him to finish his schooling in Australia.

So we discussed the situation, and she said immediately that she would support me all the way. Of course, itís been difficult, and had not she been the special lady she is it would have never worked.

But weíve got such a strong relationship, we make it work. I speak with my family every day, I manage to go there twice a year, and she comes a few times as well.

How do you fill your free time then?

I do keep myself busy, and fit! I play golf, I watch all the sporting events available in the region, and you name it, we have it! Tennis, F1, Golf, Athletics, itís all happening here!

Asians Games 2006, Doha, Aspire/Khalifa ComplexAnd I get to live the event close-up and personal, Iím not just a spectator, I get to be there, to live it! Like for the Asian Games in 2006 and 2010, I was part of it, and it was a fantastic experience.

All this, I would have never thought I would ever experienced, and Iím proud I was able to help and make this amazing project workÖ 

Photo SquashPics
  

GEOFF WHO?
Geoff Hunt, Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

At the age of 12, Geoff Hunt took up squash, and by 18 in 1965, he won the Australian national title - the first of seven times he would triumph at that level, making him the youngest player in history to do so.

In 1969, he became the first player to win the World Amateur and British Open Championships in the one year.

He was ranked either number 1 or 2 in the world every year from 1967 to 1981.

Throughout his career, Hunt won a record - to that time - 8 British Opens (1969, 1974, 1976 - 1981) (he was runner up in 1970 and 1972), 4 World Opens (1975, 1976, 1979 and 1980), three World amateur titles (1967, 1969, and 1971), 16 Australian titles, 3 World Team Championships, eight South African and three Irish championships.

He won every major tournament in the world, and the majority of those more than once.

In all, Hunt played 215 tournaments in Australia and overseas and won 178 of them, representing more than 80% of those he contested.

Hunt maintains a connection with the squash community to this day. He was appointed head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport squash unit when it opened in 1985 until 2003 where he helped develop a new generation of Australian squash stars, and is Squash Australia's high performance manager.

Hunt was made a  in 1982 for his services to the sport of squash, and to international relations.


The Squash Facilities - an amazing glass court, three weeks old, with resizable traditional courts (doubles)






EN BREF #3
 
Fram tells you Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds

THE ASPIRE ZONE - WHERE SPORT IS KING...
 

Aspire Academy

QATAR - ALL ABOUT SPORT

You may remember El Gouna, and Ramy talking in his speech about having his body sorted (and his head). On our page report, look for his aftermatch speech...

Well, it's that report that gave us the idea to send him there. He is still to this day working with  nutrition Richard Allison, and Dr Christiano Eraile, his orthopaedist, who sorted his joints out/bones outÖ

This place is huge. It took my driver about 30m last year to find the entrance, poor mite. And if I was living in Qatar, I think I would spend my days here...

Follow the guide

Aspire Park

Let's start with the Aspire Park, 88 hectare, with running tracks, a lake, restaurant and cafť.

  

Running alongside it, the biggest Shopping Mall in Doha, the Villaggio Shopping Mall, with Gondolas, Cinemas, international brands, ice rink, and of course restaurants. Yes, you read well, gondolas....

In the middle, the famous Khalifa Stadium, which welcomed the Asians Games 2006, and is under complete refurbishement, and should host one of the semi finals of the World Cup.

A few figures, 50,000 seats, football pitch of course, 6 floors, two swimming pools in the stands, HD broadcast facilities, etc.

Have a look also at the video of a National Football game. Do you think they like their football over here? Do you still think they "bought" the World Cup just for the sake of it???

To the north of the stadium, you'll find the Hamad Aquatic Centre, over 5 floors, where you can swim, dive, synchronise swim, and play water polo, among other aquatic activities.

Ah, of course, 2 Olympic swimming pools, 2 Olympic Diving pools, and why not, I throw in a warm up pool, with seating for 3,000 people.

Come on, we are far from finished yet. Here is the Ladies Club, the first of its kind in the country, specially designed the recreational needs of women.

It's got 3 floors, a Health Spa, business centre and library, tennis and squash courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, hairdresser, beauty salon, restaurant, cafť and 2 Ballrooms!

Next to it, you'll find as well the Ladies Sports Hall, with indoor facilities like Bakset Ball, Hand Ball, Volleyball, etc.

To finish with this first part of the visit, let's glance at the hotels - well, OF COURSE, there are 2 luxury hotels there - The Torch and the Khalifa Motel.

The Torch, well, easy to see why it was given that name, isn't it?? The tallest building in Qatar, 5 stars, 167 rooms and suites, a revolving restaurant, a unique 3 level Health Club and Gym with an outdoor swimming pool, the highest I've ever seen to be honest!

And the Khalifa Motel, well, looks like a Victorian Castle, 138 rooms 5 star Motel just next to the Aspire Academy.



You said Aspire Academy? Let's push the doors, shall we?



The Torch

The Torch suspended Swimming Pool



INVITING
TOP ATHLETES


ASPIREís long-term sports development philosophy is an inspirational quest to create a generation of outstanding Qatari sportsmen, and a sporting culture to match.

Top junior teams are brought to Doha for friendly competitions and ASPIRE student-athletes travel all over the world for training camps, which include competition against the worldís most respected junior teams and individuals. 



And here we are. In the Aspire Dome. Home to the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence.

Just to give you an idea of the surface of the bleeping thing. The Aspire Dome has the capacity to host 13 different sporting events (yes, they have 13 grounds), including - wait for it - a FIFA standard football pitch with 5,500 seats! And all that with Air Conditionned...



Of course, Olympic swimming pool, with diving pool, and 800 seats. Athletics tracks, IAAF accredited, it goes without saying. Gymnastic training hall, Table tennis hall, Volley Ball, Basket Ball, Hand Ball, Martial Arts, Fencing, Squash of course, a 1200 set Amphitheatre, function rooms, etc, etc, etc.
Admin BuildingOne nice thing, all the administrators are regrouped under the same roof, but on two floors.

And I understand that the people on the first floor are the BIG people.... When you get to the first floor, people, you know you've made it!

Along the Sport side of things, you have the academic side of things, with class rooms, plus physios, biomecanics, nutrition, sport psychology.

And the boys - yes, that Academy for Sports Excellence is for Boys only - although they run a program throughout the Qatar Schools from the age of 6 to promote sport activities for both Boys and Girls as well - the boys was I saying, have even a boarding facility.

During their last year, students are encouraged to stay here to get used to the University Feel, to get used to fend for themselves, and see if they like it, and if they can get used to not having their family as close...

You'll discover the Squash Facilities and an interview of Geoff Hunt, head coach here since 2006, in our next edition...

Action Photos - Steve Line @squashpics












Doha En Bref #2
  Fram tells you Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds ..




WORLD CHAMPS PRESS


Press Clips... Telegraph (England), and L'Equipe (France)

THEY SAID...

Count of the refs to crack us up. First, Welsh Roy Gingell, the match Karim/Simon in the first round. Ball may or may not be not up. "Let" calls Roy. "Are you 100% sure the ball is not up", asks Karim? "We are 100% unsure"....

But the Palme d'Or still goes to Damian Green in James/Shawn match. Damian is the quietest of men, bless him, so discreet, never a bad word against anybody. But for once he opened his mouth, he was very successful at it...

At 8/6 James to serve in the third, the Canadian asks a let. He gets it. But he immediately asks for a review.

"Why do you want to review that decision???" asks candidely the Central Ref Damian Green. The whole crowd goes bursting. "Well, I'm hoping for a stroke", says Shawn...

When asked after the match, the Australian declared with that adorable smile of his, "well, I thought it was so close to a no let, I was really surprised he would like to see it overturned back to a no let! At least, I woke everybody is, didn't I".

That, Damian, you certainly did....
 
QUICK QUICK QUICK...

Again, no time to do much stories this time, so I thought I would "recycle" some articles I did last year. Because it was pretty instructive I though. If you read them before, tough. But if you haven't... Try it... You may learn something.

QATAR, BACK TO THE FUTURE....

One of the great things about being on the Squash Circuit, is that you get to see places other "normal" people only get to hear about.

Let's take... Qatar shall we? The name rings "World Cup 2022" at the moment, doesn't it? With all the controversies that went with it, talks of corruption were associated with the awarding the event to the small country. Surely, surely, they know nothing about Football, about Sport in general, and they used underhand ways to win that bid .... some say.

Well, I wish all those people could see what's actually happening in Qatar, about life in general, and Sport in particular.

I was lucky enough to be shown a tour of Aspire, the Place to Be when you are an athlete - or a simple housewife for that matter.

During my stay, I'm going to try and make you discover a bit of Qatar, its history, the evolution this country is going through, and their love and dedication to sport....

 
From this ...... to that.... Spot the Sheraton building in the bottom photo....
  
 

SPOT THE SHERATON...

Have a good look at the two photos above. Yes, it's the same view, twenty years later.

On the first one, you can see only one building, it's the Sheraton Hotel.

Cut to 2011, and have a look at the Skyline.

A few changes, wouldn't you say???
 
A BIT OF HISTORY

A LOOOOOOONG TIME AGO....

- Archeological discoveries, inscriptions and a collection of exquisite pottery which were found in scattered areas in the country have proven that the land of Qatar was populated as early as 4000 BC.

-In the 5th century BC the Greek historian Herodotus referred to the seafaring Canaanites as the original inhabitants of Qatar. Further, the geographer Ptolemy showed in his map of the Arab World "Qatara" as believed to refer to the Qatari town of "Zubara", which has acquired the fame of being one of the most important trading ports in the Gulf region at the time.

-During the 16th century AD, the Qataris aligned with the Turks to drive out the Portuguese. Subsequently, Qatar alongside with the whole regions of the Arabian Peninsula came under the Ottoman Empire rule for about four successive centuries.



LAST CENTURY...


-In the aftermath of the 1914 First World War, the Turkish rule in Qatar came to an end and Qatar signed a protection treaty with Britain in 1916. However, the British influence in the country was limited to supervision of some administrative matters.

The reach of the British Empire diminished after the Second World War, especially following Indian independence in 1947.



Pressure for a British withdrawal from the Arab emirates in the Gulf increased during the 1950s, and the British welcomed Kuwait's declaration of Independence in 1961.

When Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would disengage politically, though not economically, from the Gulf in three years' time, Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation.

Regional disputes however, quickly compelled Qatar to resign and declare independence from the coalition that would evolve into the seven-emirate United Arab Emirates.

On September 3, 1971, Qatar became an independent sovereign state.



ECONOMY...

Qatar's national income primarily derives from oil and natural gas exports. Qataris' wealth and standard of living compare well with those of Western European states; Qatar has one of the highest GDP per capita in the Arab World.

With no income tax, Qatar is also one of the two least-taxed sovereign states in the world (the other is Bahrain).

While oil and gas will probably remain the backbone of Qatar's economy for some time to come, the country seeks to stimulate the private sector and develop a "knowledge economy".

In 2004, it established the Qatar Science & Technology Park to attract and serve technology-based companies and entrepreneurs, from overseas and within Qatar.

For the 15th Asian Games in Doha, it established Sports City, consisting of Khalifa stadium (where one of the semis of the World Cup should be played), the Aspire Sports Academy (which you'll discover in my next edition), aquatic centres, exhibition centres and many other sports related buildings and centres.



OIL...

The country has oil estimated at 15 billion barrels (2.4 km≥)...



... while gas reserves in the giant north field (South Pars for Iran) which straddles the border with Iran and are almost as large as the peninsula itself are estimated to be between 800Ė900tcf (Trillion Cubic Feet - 1tcf is equal to around 80 million barrels of oil equivalent).


Photo Credit : catnaps , scaruffi, flickr






  En Bref :  Issue #1 
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds
The world's biggest Squash Racquet...
And it's in Doha, where else...

   
VIP Entrance

QUICK QUICK QUICK...

Not much time this event, sorry boys and girls, no chance to make a nice presentation, but still, a few facts/stories you may enjoy reading about.

First, the Shabana family has got a little boy, Adib - it means well educated, clever, well mannered I'm told. The Mum Najla and the baby are sound and well and it's a great addition to the little girls Shabs as already, Nada and Yara. Tous mes voeux ŗ vous mes petits....

In the "And they lived Happily..." colomn, we have also a little visit from the Boswell clan, with that gorgeous little boy that is not camera shy little James, isn't he ADORABLE!! Also, Miss Joelle King about to become a married woman, counted down the days I'm told... Plus, excellent news in the New Kemp family, a baby is coming soon, and we wish a good health to Jacklyn - that's why she didn't play in the HK Open...

Now, on a completly different subject, some of you have heard of the Wallbangers movie, a movie being done in Egypt by a passionate, clever and wonderful young man called Omar Khodeir. That film retraces/follows the lives of the Egyptian players of today.

You can follow him on @SquashRoyalty on Twitter, or check his website. Check it out, it is well worth it the 2 minutes of your life...

Also, you may remember my famous sentence of last year, "you could wrap me in a glossy paper and sell me as an icecream" after a few freezing sessions in Qatar. Well this year, I came prepared.

I "borrowed" a blanket from the Qatar Airways plane that took me from Hong Kong to here - there are sponsoring the Tournament, GOD BLESS THEM - and it has proven to do wonders yesterday! I was not cold at all. Merci Qatar Airways.

Ah, just in case you wonder, I will drop it back in the plane which takes me back to London... I told you, borrowed....

A biiiiiig thank you to Sue Matthew, who searched earth and heaven to find me my favourite notebook - you can only find it in Rymans - and brought it with her from Sheffield.

I stupidely thought that one booknote would cover the two tournaments, silly of course. Your friends just can make your life simpler, can they. Thanks Sue..

And of course, Thanks to Alaaeldeen Allouba, who, under Mr Ali Bin Ali and Hisham Algosaibi supervision of course, is our guide here in the "meanders" that is a World Open, as he's been doing it for years for all the tournaments here. 

Information provided and printed for the press, making sure we have the right tools to work, a perfect seat like every year, and with a smile. He respond to email quickly and efficiently, and get straight to the point, no time wasters please. My kind of boss!

And attention to detail too. Last night, he made sure that we were getting room service as we arrived at the hotel way past everybody else bed time. I didn't even had to call them as I received a phone call at 12.30am, saying "Mrs Gommendy, you have missed the dinner, would you like some food?". Course I did! And might as well, as this morning, didn't have time to have my breakfast... It was food or en brefs... As you are reading this...

Back to Alaaeldeen, with the passing of the years, he has become a friend, and I am personally extremely grateful for the "Ala touch". Merci mon ami.
  


James Boswell...


... with Mummy Vicky...


You shouldn't have...


Nasser looks as fresh as me


Nice to see them both,
DP, alias "Secret Coach",
AKA David Pearson, and
Phil Newton, ES Physio

En Bref

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