ReRun : Baj on all continents

Fram caught up with promoter Satinder Bajwa at the 2004 Super Series Finals (the end of season top-eight tournament now known as the World Tour Finals) in London’s Broadgate Arena …

Rerun : Baj on all Continents

Our meeting didn’t start that well, as Baj (as everybody on the squash scene calls him) said to me that he didn’t know who I was really, as he didn’t read “squash gossip”.

Excuse-me??????????????, Gossip? Charming!!!!!

But I forgive him… He is only a man after all…

How many years have you been involved in squash?

I started in 1978. I started as a hobby, at the time I was playing football, cricket and tennis. I met Ian Mckenzie and Ross Norman at the same time. Actually, Ross Norman was the first world class player that I ever had the pleasure to play with, and he energised my interest in the game.

Did you play a lot professionally?

No, very quickly I turned towards coaching and managing players, like Mir Zaman Gul who I took to world number 6. And then I teamed up with Jansher as manager/coach or mentor for about 10 years. At the time, he was already world champion.

What was your role with Jansher?

Well, how do you coach a world champion? You guide him, and you make sure that he stays up there. Jansher was very particular, and he would have come down very quickly. So I advised him all along.

How did you get involved in the Super Series Finals?

Well, while working with Jansher, we wanted to organise a tournament on invitation. We first started looking at an 8 man event with Jansher being the pinnacle. Originally, the Super Series were held in Switzerland for ’92 and ’93 (Jansher won both times) in Zurich, but didn’t happen the two following years. So we decided to move it over here.

Has it always been at the Broadgate Arena since coming to England ?

No, it started at the Galleria Shopping Centre in Hatfield from ’96 to ’98 (Jansher again won it in ’96 & ’97). At the time, we had a slogan: “Shopping for Squash”. It was the beginning of a new era for squash, like the tournament in front of the Pyramids, and I always said, “if the public doesn’t go to squash, let’s take squash to the people”. And it worked very well for us.

And then?

Well, we wanted to expand the event. At the time, I was sponsored by Equitable Life, and they liked the event, they liked the TV coverage on Sky. As they had some City presence, we moved to here, and we’ve now been back here for the 6th time this year, and next year, we’ll be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the event (3 years at the Galleria, and 7 years at Broadgate).

I know you are a busy man…

I’m actually the Director of Squash at Harvard University for Men and Women. I’m in partnership with WSM (White Sports Management) to develop squash business and events. They provide me with the network, the structure for all those events, and it works very well.

Are you still playing squash?

Yes, in the over 45’s, but as I’m 48, I should wait two years until I’m 50 really, as I’m now competing with Ross Norman, who just turned 45. So, I’d better wait a bit until I get in the next category, leaving him in the one below!

Do you take your squash seriously?

Not as much as I would have liked, unfortunately. With events like this one, it always gets pushed into the background. But I still have a passion for playing.

Why do you keep this tournament going, as I know it’s hard to organise?

It’s easy to package. It’s clear and neat, we don’t need to have qualifications, and also, it has been going for nine years now, it would be a shame for it not to go on for another 9 years. That proves that sometimes, things that start up as a one off become ongoing, and you really want to input your energy to keep it growing and expanding.

And are the main sponsors, Brit Insurance, happy with their investment in the event?

Yes, they are, especially with their nomination for the award. Very often, sponsors are afraid that squash is not going to give them enough publicity and credibility. But in this case, the partnership between squash and Brit Insurance has benefited both parts, and we need more of that if we want to develop the game.

Super Series Finals 2004

The 2004 event was won by France’s Thierry Lincou, beating surprise finalist Joe Kneipp in the final.

World Tour Finals History

World Tour Finals History