Steve Cubbins at the ATCO Junior
Captain Amir in Command
There’s a lot to organise for a major junior
event, just ask anyone involved in the
British Junior Open, or any of the big
European, Asian and American events.
Just how much might have come as a bit of a
shock for organiser-in-chief, one of the
world's most renowned coaches and Egyptian
National Coach Amir Wagih (people
call him “Captain Amir” to remind him of
Communication is the key, and to ensure he’s
in constant communication Amir has three
mobiles on the go, usually one at a time,
but from what I’ve seen so far he’s
permanently engaged on one or the other, and
is quite adept at holding two conversations
at once on multiple devices.
Having lost his iPhone a few weeks ago –
“1200 numbers, all gone, and while I was
without a SIM card for a few hours I felt
lost, completely cut off” – he’s just taken
possession of a new Nokia N97, but whether
he’ll be able to cope with just one remains
to be seen.
Naturally he relied on a teenager to get his
new device up and running. Abdul Rahman (‘Duman’)
Al-Turki, who is just about to turn 14 and
is getting taller by the day, did the
business, and handled questions with aplomb,
typically failing to understand how anyone
couldn’t work this phone, “it’s so easy …”
Busy busy busy
You can understand his confusion though,
he's a busy man - “I haven’t had a vacation
for six years and I don’t know when I’ll get
one,” says Amir.
A quick look at his current itinerary shows
16-26 Jun ATCO Training Camp … 26-29 Jun
ATCO Junior Open … 30-15-Jul Saudi National
team visit … 15-24 Jul Arabic Club Kuwait
visit … 25-03 Aug World Teams Chennai … and
so it goes on.
”I’m up at 6am every day, on court at 8am
until lunchtime, and then from 3pm until
late,” he says.
The feast of burgeoning talent pays tribute
to the work he’s putting in though. He left
a lasting legacy from his three and a half
years in Kuwait, taking them from 27th in
the World U19 rankings to fourth and since
being back in Egypt there’s no shortage of
players from across the globe wanting to
come and train in Cairo.
There’s a plan too – according to it, the
next three world junior champions will come
from the ATCO Academy, starting in Chennai
next month, and there's more lined up for
future years too. We won’t name them just
yet, but you’ll be hearing much more of them
One of the recurring themes is ATCO, so
naturally we had to find out how his
association with the PSA Chairman's company
"Last Easter I got a call asking if I could
go to see him for some practice with him and
his family. It went well, and sitting at
dinner afterwards I told him my dream of
having a great Academy and a 20-court club
"Ziad said 'ok, let's start with the academy
for the next three years and see where we go
Ziad just loves squash - when his company
were involved in building the City Stars
complex in Cairo [more on that next issue]
he made sure they put four squash courts in
there. He's good for the game too, his
involvement with the PSA, the Saudi and
other tournaments, letting other events use
his glass court, it's phenomenal what he's
done and what he's doing."
So there you have it - maybe the fourth ATCO
Junior Open will be in Cap'n Wagih's dream
club in Cairo ... wouldn't that be an
#1: It’s just over there …
“The hotel’s just opposite the stadium,” was
the good news I heard when I arrived. One
because the Stadium is the ‘main’ venue
where the semis and finals will be held, and
two because I already ‘knew’ it having been
there for the Hurghada International early
stages not many weeks ago.
”The Zohour club [one of the other two
venues] is just 50 yards from the stadium”
was the other piece of good news.
Well as it turned out neither were strictly
accurate. Turn right out of the Triumph
hotel, and after 10-15 minutes travel up
what I can only describe as ‘Military
Avenue’, housing any number of army
establishments (no, I didn’t think it was a
good idea to whip out my camera and start
taking shots of the guards), you arrive at a
major dual-triple carriageway road with the
stadium on the other side.
Well that’s ok then, I knew where I was.
Well I thought I did, but the stadium is
surrounded by major dual-triple carriageway
roads, so even though I didn’t know it there
was only a 25% chance of me being where I
thought I was.
A walk to one end, then the other – I hadn’t
dared try to cross the road yet –
ascertained that no, I didn’t really know
where I was at all. Nothing for it then, the
road had to be crossed anyway, so now seemed
like the time.
Thankfully once on the other side the first
person I asked told me which side of the
stadium I should be heading for, and after
another few minutes I really did begin to
recognise the place, and was soon at the
Did I mention that it was hot? Even the
locals were saying how hot a day it was.
Since there wasn’t much happening at the
stadium I decided to find the other club –
the one 50 yards away, remember - and asked
someone how to get there.
”Oh, it’s about a five minute drive in that
direction,” he pointed. “You could walk, but
I wouldn’t try today, it’s too hot …”
The walk back to the hotel was nice – nice
and hot – but at least now I know …
Fortunately there’s shuttle buses laid on
for the four days of the tournament, touring
the hotels and venues. Can’t wait …
Pedestrian Crossing, Cairo-style
Economies of scale ...
Parking, Cairo style