By Rey Bancod
Kuala Lumpur – On the heels of the Philippines’ finest showing in squash in the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG), an ambitious plan to build a national squash center is being mulled by the new leadership of the Philippine Squash Academy.
Robert Bachmann, who took over the squash federation in late 2015, said he has held preliminary talks with possible investors for the center which can house eight regular courts with movable walls, a jumbo squash court and a championship glass court.
“The cost is in the vicinity of P35 million including the warehouse. All we need is 1,500-square meter of land,” he said.
Bachmann said Makati would be an ideal location because of the expats that play the sport regularly.
“The center would be self-sustaining with plans to rent out shops around the center,” he said.
On Tuesday, the national team nearly completed a breakthrough in the sport.
The men’s squad reached the final for the first time and did it by eliminating powerhouse Malaysia in the semifinals Monday.
The landmark win can be likened to Malaysia beating the men’s basketball team.
Against Singapore, ranked second behind Malaysia in the region, the Philippines managed to extend the fight into three games after Robert Garcia, the country’s No. 1 player, turned back Benedict Chan, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9.
Singapore won the first singles when Pang Ka Hoe crushed Reymark Begonia, 11-1, 11-3, 11-6.
However, Samuel Kang proved too much for David William Pelino who went down in straight sets, 4-11, 4-11, 5-11.
The women’s jumbo doubles team of Jemyca Arebado and Yvonne Dalida accounted for the other silver medal won in squash.
The bronze medalists were Jemyca Arebado and Dalida in women’s doubles, Jemyca Arebado and Garcia in mixed doubles, Pelino and Garcia in men’s jumbo doubles, Jemyca Arebado in women’s singles, Garcia in men’s singles and Jemyca Arebado, Isabelle Gotuaco, Joan Arebado and Yvonne Dalida in women’s team.
Bachmann believes that Filipinos can excel in squash.
“We just need to promote it and make it widely available,” said Bachmann.
Currently, Bachmann said there are around 30 squash courts in the country, concentrated mostly in Metro Manila and about 50 players that can be tapped for the national team.
“We need to erase the perception that squash is only for the elite,” he said.
Despite the shock loss to the Philippines in the men’s event, Malaysia dominated the sport with six gold medals with Singapore taking three golds.
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