The HOT Spot
TWO WEEKS IN ISLAMABAD


On duty with the referees for the 13th World Junior Individual and Team Championships, Linda Davie concludes her Islamabad Diary...

  

LIFE IN ISLAMABAD


Life at the Holiday Inn left a lot to be desired. The Hotel was adequate but not plush. The players had no where to chill out after their matches in the evening. Having said this most of the players appeared to be enjoying themselves. We were allowed to book transport with "escorts" and go off for a jolly. "Jolly" is that the correct word, I don't think so.

We were fortunate enough to have been advised that the British Embassy had a Club. We were allowed temporary membership and this was our saving grace. Here we could order Steak and mushroom Pie, or steak and chips and other recognisable food ... also they served B O O Z E ... A cold glass of beer for my fellow referees went down well while I participated in a small refreshment myself...a glass of wine or a vodka and coke hit the spot.


SETTING THE STANDARD

The International Referees performed to high standards and I was happy to be working with them and actually felt that I performed to my best level.

Peter Lawrence in particular was in magnificent form and I have to admit this was his best refereeing in my mind.

George Mieras, Technical Director from WSF, did a wonderful job, managing to keep things on track in Islamabad as well as sending regular reports to the outside world.


FINALS DAY

On Team finals day we had the honour of refereeing the Final. Ian Cherrington took charge of the first match, the No. 1's which Egypt won, Ramy Ashour vs. Khalid Atlas Khan. A quick match in which the Egyptian was too powerful but he annoyed me with all the lets he asked for. I am used to watching the top guys playing through minimal interference now and I felt it messed up the game.

The second match on was the 3rd strings and Yasir Butt looked hesitant at times but eventually he came through to bring the match to a nice 1 - 1.

The deciding match we all thought was going to be a battle. But Farhan Mehboob came out of the starting blocks and never looked back. If he had played this way in the individuals he would have stood a great chance of being crowned champion. The tall, large Egyptian looked sluggish and he was never allowed a look in. He tried a few times to ask for feeble lets but the Ref, Peter stood firm and awarded no lets.

The match was over before you had a chance to take it all in. The Pakistanis were overjoyed and quite rightly so.


MEET THE PRESIDENT

We were given the pleasure of the President Musharraf arriving to present the prizes. He gave an immaculate speak in English, no sheet in front of him, straight from the heart, off the cuff, it was wonderful.

Considering there have already been attempts on his life we were, to be honest, a little hesitant at being locked up in a building with him but the security forces had done their job and everyone was scrutinized and no unnecessary items were permitted - this even included my handbag!


FANTASTIC FACILITIES ...
The complex's, as there were two, were of the highest quality. The players must have enjoyed this part of the Championship. Beautiful, air conditioned. We did have trouble one day but the Federation quickly got their act together and the problem was sorted.


AND BARGAINS TOO !
Some trips were organised for the players and they were escorted around the tourist shops where bartering had to be the order of the day. Everything was so cheap and still we felt that the shop keepers were packing up after we left and were booking themselves and their families holidays on the profit.

One day I travelled over to Rawalpindi, the next town, or should that be city. The roads were miles long, traffic was horrific and people were in their thousands, it was all too much for me.

The road parallel was filled with wood shops. Small shop-lets carrying untreated wood followed by a shop filled with treated wood followed by the next selling furniture such as bedroom stuff. People were making headboards, bedside cabinets etc. It was wonderful to see all of these being made by hand. From the very young to the very old each applied their trade. They even had forms of beds lying outside on which they lay for a nap!!!

There were thousands of shops my mind boggled. The roads were dusty, busy and it was hard to take it all in. "Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun", kept going through my mind.

We could purchase material for suits, trousers shirts etc all at very low prices. An Armani suit cost approx. 100 - oh how I bet Andy Nickeas would have just loved it ...

I bought lots of material costing approx 2/ mtr ... amazing. CDs cost around 70p and DVDs around 1 ... we were laughing at these prices. A Sony DVD player cost aprrox 20....wowser, I thought.


FAREWELL PARTY

The last night was a sight to behold. We dined outside under a marquee. It was magnificent. Entertainment followed on a grand scale, although I left at this point as I still had to pack, with my bus leaving at 4.30 am. Of course, it actually left after 5.00am although they forgot to advise me of this, ah the laid back life is not for me.

When we arrived at the airport we noted that three jumbos were departing within 15 minutes of each other... One minor problem -  every piece of luggage carried by everyone had to go through ONE machine. It took over two hours just to gain entrance to the airport. Our luggage was screened several times after this and we also were screened several times. My plane was delayed for over an hour due to this process.


THANKS, PAKISTAN

I have happy memories of my trip to Pakistan and I believe they have bid for the Men's World's Team Championship in December 2005. This event in my mind has paved the way and I am sure they have learned many valuable lessons.

They tried to put on the best show possible and I hope they realise we were appreciative. I wish them every success when they do hold their next event and perhaps I shall be lucky enough to be invited back ... yes I can't wait to go back, they are lovely people whose intent is only to be helpful. They love their squash - it's in their blood.


INCENTIVES FOR CHAMPIONS

The President threw down the gauntlet and promised that the first Pakistani player to win the world Championship would be rewarded with 1 million rupees, that's around 100,000. This is a fortune in Pakistan and I hope that one day soon a young man will take great pride in facing and meeting this challenge.
  


Linda Davie



Holiday Inn, Islamabad






Pakistan win the team title ...


... and Jahangir is impressed




The President arrives



  
The squash complex outside ...


 
... and inside



One last bargain ???



Full House
 







The President offers incentives
for Pakistan's squash players

Photos courtesy Chris Smith and PakSquash.com