Haitham Effat, Part 2


“Nouran contacted me before the last PSA World Tour Finals, at the end of the season, and I thought I could do some good work with her. We thought that would be good for both of us at that time. Maybe she feels that she needs someone like me in her team.

But what about Hania feelings about the change? Again, a clinical response.

“As a coach, I do not wonder how Hania feels about Nouran. As a professional, the situation would be the same with any Hania competitors. I wouldn’t say it’s easy on me, or on her as well, but it is the professional way and the right way. So, if I coached Hania one year, I can’t coach Nouran the next year?

“As a professional coach, I am happy to work with someone like Nouran. Actually, it worked very well in the short period we worked together before the World TourFinals. We didn’t have enough time, I’d say. But in a couple of weeks, Nouran – who is recovering from her injury – and Nada Abbas are going to come here to train. So we’ll have more time.”

So it’s confidence, then reading the game, then what to do with whom…

So, what is Haitham doing all day now? Full days, for sure.

“Well, I still watch PSA matches, keep updated with everything, and I’m working with nine junior players, based in a private squash venue that possesses two courts. I’m happy to work with Nouran and Nada, I would love to have a few male players as well, not too many, a couple would be nice, but it’s very hard at the moment, the competition is very tough between the top players.”

Different players, different needs, obviously…

“Nouran and Nada need entirely different things. Nouran plays a type of game that everybody knows. She could benefit from adding a different mixture of games, changes in her movement, more fluid maybe, and using her short game more, basically mixing her game.

You can’t change the game of a world number one
but you can add to it, movement, attack and tactics.

“Now, Nada needs to get confidence in herself, in her game, above everything else. When that’s achieved, she has to improve one or two things.

Then you take her from Top 20 to Top 8, and you see from there. It’s not an easy task; everybody in the women’s game is so talented. It’s hard; everybody is chasing the same dream.

So it’s confidence, then reading the game, then it’s what to do with whom.

I truly believe we have a problem with the refereeing…

Whereas Nouran has everything, she is world number one, it’s all fine-tuning… You can’t change the game of a world number one, but you can add to it, movement, attack, and tactics.

Haitham gets animated when I ask him about the “movement issues” squash seems to face for a few months now.

Tarek Momen lost the World Champs at the Museum on a no let for no reason

“I truly believe we have a problem with the refereeing. I get often confused with the decisions, with their lack of consistency, what is a stroke, a let or a no-let, depends on the situation. The last matches between Hania and Nouran were very inconsistent. It’s difficult for the players, they don’t know the line.

Lee Drew helped me a lot to understand, but I feel there are a lot of changes, too many, every month, it makes everybody uncomfortable. We need to improve the whole concept for the players to have less interference, and if the refs can make it clear for everybody, it would be better for us all.

“Some of the clean players get penalised; Tarek lost the World Champs on a no-let for no reason; the problem doesn’t come only from Asal, it would be very harsh to say that, even if he needs to improve his movement for sure. Take Hania/Nouran; the matches were horrible, and that was a refereeing problem.

If you give a conduct stroke for blocking, that’s fine, but it you give a no-let while the player is being blocked, that’s not helping the fluidity of the matches, and a match, instead of lasting 60m, lasts 220m! If the rules are more apparent to the players, it will be much simpler for the players to adapt and play accordingly. Otherwise, it’s horrible on court.”

My dream is to create a “squash hub” here in California

But back to the dreaming… Haitham has got plenty of those…

“I wish for squash to get more visibility, and to grow to more and more new heights, to be played in more and more countries. I wish that Canada, Pakistan and Australia would get back to their previous glory, and of course, that we finally get to the Olympics, that would make a big difference for the sport.

“As for myself, my ambition is to have my own place soon with 6 or 7 courts 8, my dream is to create a “squash hub” here in California, like Wael El Hindi created in Florida.

“I want to do both working with top players AND working with juniors from a very young age, but I don’t want to do it on my own, I want to create a team around me, I’m not a one-man show. We want to work and train amazing kids from 7 years old, not only working with already-made champions.

“So, here’s hoping for my Squash Hub in California, and for everybody comes and visit!