Undri, 11th January 2024: The ongoing 67th National Squash Tournament in Pune’s Undri has come under scrutiny due to poor management and unfavorable conditions for the young participants. The event, aimed at fostering young talent, is marred by logistical challenges and insufficient facilities, making it a tough experience for aspiring squash players.
Many young participants under 16 and 14 years old, coming from different parts of India, are facing challenges. The tournament is being held in Undri, and the organizers provided accommodation in Balewadi, approximately 30 kilometers away. Limited and inefficient bus services result in these young players enduring over two-hour commutes, with some standing during the journey.
Despite claims of a “state-of-the-art” squash court made of glass, the reality on the ground is far from ideal. Players are facing challenges such as inadequate electricity supply, unclean surroundings, and insufficient accommodation facilities. The court’s vulnerability to weather conditions is evident, with mud becoming a persistent issue during rain. Additionally, the ladies’ bathroom door is reported to be unhinged, and players struggle to find drinking water conveniently.
The absence of a proper event schedule has left players waiting for extended periods without any apparent reason. The waiting conditions are exacerbated by the absence of sufficient waiting spaces for the participants. Organizers have allegedly shown indifference to the concerns raised, citing an inability to address the issues.
Surprisingly, organizers have been discouraging students from participating in the tournament, even though squash is not widely popular in India. The discouragement seems at odds with the intent of promoting the sport among young enthusiasts.
A concerned parent of players expressed, “The conditions are extremely challenging; when it rains, players have to contend with mud. I even witnessed the unexpected unhinging of the ladies’ bathroom door one day. The players face difficulties in obtaining sufficient water, as they place bottles in inconvenient locations. Moreover, the absence of a schedule forces players to wait without any necessary reason.”