The end of August witnessed the final matches of the Cairo Arab Regional Junior Squash Open 2016, which took place from 26 to 31 August in Gezira Sporting Club and Al-Jazeera Youth Center.
Egyptian and international squash champions Mohamed Abbas and Omneya Abdel Kawy were the championship’s directors.
On this occasion, Daily News Egypt met Abdel Kawy, currently ranked seventh internationally.
Did you choose to be the director of this tournament?
This is the second year for this championship to be held. It started last year, and the Arab Squash Federation nominated me and Abbas to direct this tournament.
After last year’s tournament witnessed a great success, they informed me and Abbas that they also want us to be the directors of this years’ tournament. So we accepted.
As we were given the responsibility and trust to direct such a tournament, Abbas and I always try to make this tournament the best. We always have to be present and provide fast solutions, in case any problem occurs.
Why did the Arab Squash Federation choose you and Abbas?
I think because we’ve been playing squash for a long time, and we have experience with squash tournaments.
Egypt has been deemed unsafe by several international media outlets and institutions. Did you face any issues regarding the participation of foreign countries in this tournament?
We had wanted an increased number of foreign participants this year. We need to keep in mind that this is a juniors tournament, so parents should rest assured that they are sending their children to a safe place.
We, as Egyptians, can assure that Egypt is a safe place, but unfortunately the media does not always deliver the correct image abroad, portraying Egypt as an unsafe place.
If we would only think about the security situation, people would not go anywhere, including Belgium, France, and the United States.
Rumours about Egypt being an unsafe place is an issue that faced us during this and last year’s tournament.
However, the international participation this year is higher than last year, as last year’s tournament was a great success.
Of course, we would love to increase the international participation.
Regarding your sports career, how did you start playing squash?
I started when I was five years old. My father and brother were playing squash, so I got excited and tried playing. When a trainer saw me, he noticed that I was talented and advised me to continue.
I was playing squash, handball, and swimming─all at the same time. I did not go on to achieve anything in the other two sports. However, in squash, I achieved good results in the first tournament I entered, which motivated me to continue.
What are the challenges that you faced during your sports career?
The main challenge that faces us all in individual sports is the moral support. The media focuses more on the group sports, mainly football, of course. Thus, the financial support is not really sufficient.
However, we, as Egyptian squash players, have succeeded in obtaining media attention today, given our results in international championships. For the past years and still ongoing, the final matches of important and international championships almost always include Egyptian players, and often we win these finals.
As a result, the support of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has increased.
Are you satisfied with the media’s coverage of squash as a sport?
I cannot fairly judge that, since during my time, social media was not that strong. Now with Facebook and Twitter, social media has become very powerful.
I can see that the coverage of squash has enhanced compared to before. Still, it could be better given the Egyptian squash champions’ great achievements.
Is squash an expensive sport?
Yes, good shoes and racquets cost a lot. The majority of the international champions have sponsors who provide them with racquets and sports bags.
Who is sponsoring you?
I am sponsored by Harrow, which mainly provides me with racquets, sports attire, and sports bags.
What are your upcoming tournaments?
In September I will play at the Al-Ahram International Squash Open, and in October at the Wadi Degla International Women’s Squash Championship.
How are you preparing for both championships?
While directing the tournament, I was not able to fully prepare myself, besides going to the gym. Since that is now over, I am dedicating my attention to training for the upcoming tournament.
Training depends on the routine of the player’s day and the state of the player’s body. Generally, I have a daily training which includes fitness and squash. Fitness lasts for an hour and a half or two hours. The following squash training takes an hour or an hour and a half. I train at Gezira Sporting Club.
Where can you see yourself in the upcoming tournament?
Well, of course every player that participates has the intention to win and does his best. For me, I take it one match at a time.
Throughout your sports career, you made countless achievements. Can you tell us about your most significant victories?
In 2003, I won the World Junior Squash Championships’ individual competitions in Cairo. In addition to that, I was part of the Egyptian team who won the teams’ competitions.
In 2008, I was a part of the Egyptian team who won the Women’s World Team Squash Championships. It was the first time for the Egyptian women’s squash team to win such a championship. It was a great achievement, as I think it was the first time for an Egyptian women’s team to win a world championship in any sport.
In the 2010 Women’s World Open Squash Championship in Sharm El-Sheikh, I was the runner-up.
In 2012, I was part of the Egyptian team who won the Women’s World Team Squash Championships in France.
I also won the British Junior Open Squash seven times.