When Raneem played the Godfather
When the Godfather of Egyptian Squash played Raneem….
You have sponsors… and then you have CIB’s Godfather… (no offence to anybody!)
For a few years now, CIB – Commercial International Bank – has been supporting Egyptian Squash at all levels of the game: the Egyptian Federation, the players (Ali Nour, Raneem, Tarek, Gawad, Nouran, Hania, Salma), the Juniors of Wadi Degla, some PSA events in Wadi Degla, and of course two Black Ball PSA events last December and this March, and last but not least, the CIB/PSA Finals and SquashSite…
In fact, out of the 8 players in the semis tonight, 6 are CIB players…
In this not too hot afternoon, Hussein Abaza, “Godfather of Egyptian Squash”, his nickname coming naturally to me as I was trying to encapsulate his role in Egyptian Squash, arrived 30m before the time he was supposed to play – showing how keen he was to play with his idol – his words, not mine – Raneem El Welily.
His training partner, in charge of the CIB Digital World – all to do with apps and all – Farhan Farooqi, played Joelle King and also Mohamed Shorbagy… Good day for you Farhan, hope you can move today!
“Hussein is so fit, he is killing me,” smiled Farhan. “I would like to play short matches, but three times a week, he insists we are playing two hours each time… He is killing me, my body cannot take it anymore,” he laughs.
I have been crossing path with Hussein a few times now, but I have never seen him as happy, stoked, ecstatic as he was today playing Raneem.
“Are you ready for the big match?” I asked when he arrived. With his normal humility, he replied “ready for a torture session, more like!”
Those two had a ball on there, it was obvious. I kept trying to make our Godfather drink water – it was over 30° – but he wouldn’t have it. And with Karim Darwish – old friend from Hussein, we kept on shouting “Raneem, please don’t kill habebty, we need him!!!”. But she just kept the court very big for him…
Karim Darwish talks about Hussein Abaza
Seriously, Hussein was like a kid that just met Father Christmas at the end of the match.
“I have been playing squash for 50 years, and I can honestly say that it’s the first time I ever enjoyed a match that much.
“She is my idol, and playing with her was the most exhilarating, and yet the most humiliating experience… I kept attacking, but one step, and she was there, and she seemed to say go and get the ball there, and now go and get it on the other side, again and again. Never had so much fun ever! She is just incredible.”
It is a great honour to have somebody like the Godfather supporting Squash. Seriously, it is.
“CIB has chosen to support Sports in general and Squash in particular as we feel it is our duty to help and give back to our athletes who sometimes do not get the recognition or the help they deserve,” commented Hussein. “Also by helping juniors, we ensure that the continuity of the supremacy Egyptian Squash is enjoying at the moment, which is in our mind paramount for Egyptian Sports, therefore, for Egypt.”
All of us in Egypt, we feel blessed, truly blessed to have CIB’s support, and may all the Angels bless you, Godfather, for the care, the support, and the love you give to Squash…