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Interview with India's National Squash Coach Cyrus Poncha

1.73K   //    15 Dec 2009, 00:56 IST

SportsKeeda’s editor Prasaad Ayyanar caught Dronacharya Awardee India’s national coach Cyrus Poncha .  Doing his every bit for the development of the game in India he also maintains his blog at

Dronacharya Award

Dronacharya Award

Read on to hear from the great coach himself.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : What changes have you seen in Indian Squash when you started  9th asian junior championship up untill  World Junior Men’s Palmerston, New Zealand ?

Cyrus Poncha : Infrastructure, coaches and professionalism of players / parents have been the reason that Indian squash from being competitors at Asian / World Championships are today among the top 4 in the World in juniors and top 8 in seniors.
The Indian Squash Academy in Chennai has given Indian squash the impetus required to become world beaters. The state-of- the- art 7 glass back courts, 1 all- sided show court, a running track, gymnasium, 25 meter swimming pool are the facilities available for trainees at the academy.
A dedicated coach staff led by Maj. S. Maniam, Consultant coach, SRFI from Malaysia has been invaluable.
Players now participate in International tournaments on a regular basis. We now have 12 men and 8 women playing the PSA & WISPA circuits. A number of juniors now actively participate in junior events around the globe.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : Which indian players you think has reached to the level of how english,french egypt players play the game ?
Cyrus Poncha : Saurav Ghosal & Joshana Chinappa are our current national champions and both are top 35 in the world. The other professionals like Siddharth, Ritwik, Harinder & Dipika have all shown they are top 50 material and can do better.  Still playing juniors, we have Aditya Jagtap, Ravi Dixit, Ramit Tandon, Mahesh Mangaonkar, Anaka Alankamony & Saumya Karki who have performed exceedingly well and have beaten players from these countries at international tournaments.

cyrus and joshna

cyrus and joshna

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : Does indian government treat the sport Squash in terms of funding or broadcasting like any other sports  ?

Cyrus Poncha : Squash is a priority sport and we do receive funding from the govt. Thanks to the CWG 2010, our players have received funding for training and participation in tournaments. We are pleased with the efforts from the Ministry of Youth affairs and Sports. We do hope this continues over the next few years to see the benefit.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : what are the challenges for the development of Squash as a game in India ?


Cyrus Poncha : Squash is gaining popularity in the country, however due to the lack of public facilities we have only about 750 competitive players. With public facilities all over the country we should take this level up to 5,000 players. At that point with a wider base we shall produce a world champion. Also with gaining popularity we will be able to attract corporate to put more money into the sport.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : There are only 2 players from India who are in top 100,While there are 11 players from pakistan.Whats lacking in indian players that you see in pakistan players ,considering we have more funds than them for the sport?
Cyrus Poncha : In the latest PSA & WISPA ranking we can see that in the men, although Ritwik has dropped, Harinder and Siddharth are ranked around 100 and in the women’s we have 3 girls in the top 100. It is important to note that at the World Men’s team Championships in 2007, Pakistan finished in 9th position, with India one better -  finishing in 8th place. We are moving ahead!
However, squash is still very big and popular in Pakistan primarily due to the dominance of Jahangir and Jansher for 20 years. Today Pakistan squash organizes 4-5 big prize money tournaments in a year, we do not. Hence in the current scenario Pakistan has obtained more sponsors for tournament than in India. This is the reason for having so many players ranked in the top 100.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : Do you think saurav ghosal is a best player that you have seen in indian squash in recent times?
Cyrus Poncha : Yes certainly, Saurav showed exemplarily skills and hunger as a junior. He is the only Indian to win the Drysdale Cup since Anil Nayar in the 1970′s. Saurav, has proved him self by showing his meteoritic rise in the PSA rankings since he became a member, to date no Indian has been able to do that. Saurav is also the only Indian ever to win a medal at the Asian Games – Bronze at Doha 2006.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : How well you think you can impact squash in India that can be contagious and give young atheletes like the sport ?

Cyrus Poncha : I see myself as a motivator and guide for squash players in the country. Having been a full time coach since I was 18yrs, I feel I have the experience and expertise to take Indian squash players to the top.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda :your thoughts on Joshna chinnappa Creating history?

Cyrus Poncha : Joshana was the youngest National champion in the country at 14yrs. Since then she has been excelling at the junior level and today is the highest ranked Indian female. A British open champion and only Indian to be top 2 at a World championship. Joshana also won a bronze at the Asian championships.
Given all her achievements, she certainly has the potential to be a top 10 player within the next 2 years.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda :Making squash a sport in schools will create awaresness about the game nationwide,your thoughts on that?

Cyrus Poncha : Certainly this will. I do hope all squash state associations are able to go to schools and conduct programs on a regular basis.  The federation will guide all states in this project.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : You think we have enough level 3 coaches to teach the sport in india and take it to next level?

Cyrus Poncha : Unfortunately I am the only level 3 squash coach in the country. Most sports do not have full time coaches, this is an area which needs drastic change to produce results.

Prasaad@SportsKeeda : Thanks a lot Cyrus and SportsKeeda wishes you Good luck  for all the ideas you have for the sport development in India.