Fram tells you
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds ..
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.
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
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....
After a glance
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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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
Geoff Hunt, Member
of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Member of the Order of
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.
Facilities - an amazing glass court, three weeks old, with
resizable traditional courts (doubles)
Fram tells you
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds
QATAR - ALL
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
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....
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.
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
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!
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
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?
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
travel all over the world for training camps, which include
competition against the worldís most respected junior teams and
And here we are. In the Aspire Dome. Home to the
Aspire Academy for Sports
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.
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
rooms, plus physios, biomecanics, nutrition, sport
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
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...
discover the Squash Facilities and an interview of Geoff Hunt,
head coach here since 2006, in our next edition...
Action Photos - Steve Line @squashpics
Fram tells you
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds ..
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
"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
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....
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
-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
The reach of the British Empire diminished after the
Second World War, especially following Indian independence in
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.
Qatar's national income primarily derives from oil and natural
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.
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).
: Issue #1
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Worlds
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....
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...
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
"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....
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
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.
... 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