famous former British Open champion Qamar Zaman.
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.
From Pakistan to England ...
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 motherís instinct took over, didnít it?
I guess Iím 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 Menís World Team Events in Cairo and Melbourne.
Shahid had a few
bad months, didnít 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
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 Ö I hope so.
The first time you arrived
Now that your English has improved
tremendously, do you find life in England difficult?
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 Iím 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 Shahidís game, Shahidís 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 itís 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 didnít have the shots, the strokes, the drop shots. Basically, he didnít have the technique. Shahid has got the technique, he need the fitness.
Do you travel with him?
No, at the moment Iím 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 Shahidís 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 Iím giving him into matches, because thatís what he is lacking at the moment. But inchí Allah, he has the potential to be world number one. But he needs to work hard, very hard.
Shahid had his ups and downs, didnít 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 wasnít training properly, on and off, on and off. He wasnít committed to squash. But this time, when he came, he asked me ďUncle, would you train me?Ē ďNoĒ, I replied, I wonít. You let me down twice before, you went back to PakistanĒ. He did promise that this time, he was really committed. So itís actually my wife to talked me into it ďGo on, give him another chanceĒ, 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 yearís 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!
Since when have you been
taking care of Shahid?