His lover affair with squash began when he was seven years old and today he is one of the most promising players in the world of squash. Roshan Khan Jehangir Khan Squash Club in Karachi was the nursery where Saad Shahid came into being as a Squash player. Moving through international tournaments like a hurricane, he has established his superiority by winning the Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, Italian and German Junior Open events in just the past few weeks.
He began playing squash just for fun, but after being selected for the provincial team of Sindh, the sport became a serious matter for him and he started playing regularly on the national circuit soon moving on to international events. His parents made sure that nothing comes in the way of realizing his dreams of becoming a star squash player.
Before his recent sensational performance in European tournaments, he was second seed in the junior category in Pakistan and 64th in world ranking. His streak of victories in the recent past has propelled him to the third spot in the under 17 world ranking. What an amazing performance!
His winning streak is broken for now because he could not clinch the title in his most recent tournament, i.e. the Pioneer Cup in Germany. During the quarter finals, a controversial decision by the referee made him lose his focus and composure, which culminated in a defeat against Manuel Wanner, the top seed from Switzerland.
Prior to sweeping the European circuit, in 2008 he won the Pioneer Cup in Germany, Hamdard Delton Squash Championship and 3rd position in the Dutch Open. The last year too was studded with spectacular performances including victory in the German Junior Open in 2010 and fourth place in the Dutch Open.
When it comes to talent, ambition and determination, Pakistani squash players shine in every aspect; however surprisingly, it is bureaucratic problems like the issuance of a visa for international travel that are holding Pakistani players back, according to Saad. He cited his own example when he could not play in the British Open and the US Open in 2009. Four other players faced the same hurdle in 2010 and could not compete in the British Open. Lack of financial support from the government as well as private sponsors was also on Saad’s list of limitations that are preventing many talented Pakistani players from reaching their potential.
It seems that if these issues, especially the visa problem, are not promptly addressed, they will seriously hurt Pakistani players. Once again, Pakistani players have been excluded from the prestigious 18th World Junior Championships, managed by the World Squash Federation (WSF). The legendary Pakistani player Qamar Zaman expressed serious concerns and dismay,
“This [Pakistan’s exclusion] is a conspiracy. Our boys had undergone very hard training and were looking sharp. They were fully capable of clinching the title but they have been deprived of that.” He further added, “I have come to know that the PSF – despite its repeated reminders to the WSF – got visa letters from them on June 30. Thus, it was too late for them [PSF] to obtain visas from the Belgium Embassy.”
Pakistan has always been the envy of the squash playing nations due to the long list of Squash legends like Hashim Khan, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan. Aside from occasional temporary setbacks, Pakistani players have been able to continue in the footsteps of their heroes. In the very recent past, in the All Star Junior Squash championship in Malaysia, Pakistani players swept all the four categories in which they participated: in the Under 11’s, Ahmed Hamas Tarar defeated his Indian competitor, Israr Ahmad won the Under 15, the Under 17 title was clinched by Amad Fareed and Ali Mujtaba was the winner of the Under 19 title.
Similar performances were displayed in the 6th Penang International Junior Championship in Malaysia: Ali Bokhari defeated Addeen Idrakei in the final of the Under 19 event, the Under 17 title was claimed by Amad Fareed when he defeated Ahmad Khaleel Al-Siraj of Jordan and a scintillating match of five sets was played between Asim Khan and another Pakistani, Israr Ahmed, for the Under 15 title, which went to Asim Khan.