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Uplifting Indian squash - a mission for Cyrus Poncha, the new SRFI Secretary-General

Uplifting Indian squash - a mission for Cyrus Poncha, the new SRFI Secretary-General

S.R. Suryanarayan

Published: 22 Jun 2019 4:35 AM GMT
It has been an eventful journey thus far for Cyrus Poncha in squash. From being a club-level coach while still being a junior player in Mumbai, to becoming the National Coach with a WSF level-III coaching certificate, to boot and now to be given the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the Squash Rackets Federation of India. In whichever way we look, this has been a fairy tale rise. Not surprisingly, the response from this affable man with a ready smile is on expected lines: another turn in the learning curve! To Cyrus, learning never stops. He is a good listener just as much as he is a demanding instructor at the Indian Squash Academy, where his career had taken its first significant jump in the august company of Maj S. Manian, the well-known and celebrated Malaysian coach at the turn of the millennium. The latest recognition confirms he is a good observer, too, on squash matters. Cyrus would not know where he would have been, had he remained the club coach helping young squash talents. To be sure, he would have then added a few more feathers to his cap by lifting young talents to champion status, as he had already done. Opportunity, as they say, comes knocking once and it did for him on that fine day in Mumbai when Mr N. Ramachandran, the then Secretary-General of the SRFI wanted to know if he would be interested in switching base to Chennai. It was not an easy decision, but squash had by now become close to his heart and sure enough, he grabbed that moment and since then has never looked back. In a way, the experience at the ISA in the company of Maj Maniam moulded him into a shrewd coach who, as it happened, had a hand in the rise of several top talents from the Academy to national and international levels. Be it the best-known names Saurav Ghosal and
Joshna Chinappa
or the brilliant worthies like Anaka Alankamony, Kush Kumar, Harinder Pal Sandhu and the junior wonder Velavan Senthilkumar, Cyrus has had a role in their career. For one who was decorated with the country's highest honour for a coach, the Dronacharya Award in 2005 not to forget the Asian junior coach award in 2003, 2004 and 2008 as also the Asian Squash Coach award in 2010, 2014 and 2016, all this experience at the ISA can only be taken as wisdom-gained before the tryst with those glorious moments. In many ways, the move to Chennai 18 years ago and the rise to the status of a national coach helped Cyrus in knowing the pulse of the sport in the country. On the field, he was there in Doha when India won its first Asian Games medal, and he was one of those who went through the throes of an emotional bout in Incheon Games when India won its first gold medal. He was there in Chennai when Joshna won the Asian Women's Championship, India's first big success at the senior level. Aside from all these Cyrus could also see things from a squash administrator's perspective, have a feel of the vision that they had set and the way forward to reaching the targets. Indeed he was actively involved in the growth of the sport in the country in the last two decades. That involvement will from now on be on the robust side with this elevation even as he is confident of overseeing coaching activities as earlier because as he maintains, “coaching is a passion for me.” In short, Cyrus in his new role already has a clear idea of what is expected of him. Indeed the new inning is as he puts it, 'an honour' even as it will bring forth one more facet of his enviable personality. Yes, he will be loaded, but one can be assured Cyrus is not going to give up his smile, he will endeavour to bring more smiles around! The path ahead is arduous and responsibility is heavy but for a man who idolises Ramy Ashour the legendary player from Egypt, for the sheer delight he evokes with his artistic displays, Cyrus hopes to bring forth that collective assurance to meet the goals laid out from here. “I have been involved in Indian squash for over three decades and hope to continue with the same verve, work closely with all stakeholders and aim to bring up more world class players, and even realise the dream of a world champion,” Cyrus said while saluting whom he considers the 'Pioneer of Indian squash, Mr Ramachandran for whatever he is now in the sport.
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