Interview with President of the Asian Squash Federation, Dato’ A. Sani Karim in Japan.
On July 15th, 2011, a member of the board of directors of JSA, Mr. Kasahara and Office Manager Ms. Sachiko Kajita had the opportunity to host for dinner the President of the Asian Squash Federation, Dato’ A. Sani Karim in Shinagawa.
Dato’ A. Sani Karim was in Japan to attend the 30th General Assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia and the 100th Anniversary of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) held in Tokyo, Takanawa Prince Hotel in Shinagawa. A meeting between Dato’ A. Sani Karim and JSA was held the night before the Japanese Olympic Committee announced Tokyo as a bidding city for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. During the meeting Dato’ Sani was interviewed by JSA. Kindly see below the questions that were posed to Dato’ Sani and his valuable answers.
Q1. Where all the operational expenses come from in other countries including your country?
Dato’ Sani: There is a difference from country to country but most of the Federations/ Associations are supported by their respective governments. Other revenues come from the private sectors and personal contributions. Of course we are also so grateful to have all the hard work from the volunteers.
Q2. What is the most effective strategy to have more support by the government and contributions from private sectors?
Dato’ Sani: Winning medals at Asian Championships and East Asian Championships can be a powerful persuasion. As the level of Japanese squash improves more sponsors will show interest in squash and also the popularity of squash will dramatically increase. In addition, one of the ideas I would like to share with you is to look for executives in private sectors who play squash or are interested in squash and seek their support and sponsorships. It would be much easier to begin with people with knowledge of squash.
Q3. What is the most essential key to strengthen Japanese junior squash players?
Dato’ Sani: As we all know that it is very tough to break into the current top 10. It would take many years to catch up with strong countries such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Pakistan and India, thus to start it is best to focus on your junior players. With continuous support to the junior players and with international exposure they will definitely be world-class players in the next ten years. In my opinion for the short term, JSA should invest into your girls as the Japanese girls are already doing so well these days and have the potential of winning medals at both senior and junior Asian Championships.
Q4. What are the most effective strategies to build up more strong junior players when there is a very limited resource?
Dato’ Sani: There are a few options for those with limited financial resources. First, send a few players to be based overseas for training and competitions. This would help raise the playing level of the players. With high-level players in the country, others will train to compete with them and this raises the overall level in the country. If funding is available then another option would be to invite foreign coaches. This option would be beneficial to more players as compared to the earlier option. Another option can be to encourage parents with sufficient financial resources to base their children overseas for training either on a long term basis or on short attachments.
Q5. What kind of strategies and activities all the countries develop squash to be included in the Olympic games?
Dato’ Sani: There is massive commercialization of the Olympic Games however if we consider and reassessed the essentials of sport, I strongly believe that squash deserves to be included in the Olympic Games based on the fact that squash is played worldwide. Moreover, squash can be hosted with a small budget and this would help the host country enormously. All National Squash Federations/ Associations, Regional Squash Federation and World Squash Federation would need to join forces to pursue our goal. There is much to be done within the next two years and one strategy would be to hold more events at attractive iconic locations around the world just like those held at the Grand Central Station, New York City and at the Great Pyramids in Egypt. This would help high profile squash.
Finally may I add that Asian Squash Federation will always be on standby to render all assistance and support to Japan Squash Association and all our squash family members.
Dato’ A. Sani Karim encouraged us with his gentle words and smile. Let’s raise our voice and make our voice heard for the inclusion of our loved sport, Squash in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
（Translated by Noriko Ozawa, JSA Officer）
＊ Dato’ A.Sani Karim is currently the Deputy President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) since June, 2011. “Dato” is a Malaysian title given to deserving and accomplished citizens.