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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
Pakistan win the
team title ...
... and Jahangir is
complex outside ...
... and inside
One last bargain
for Pakistan's squash players