Spanish No.4 Carlos Cornes Ribadas has been named as the new Squash Director at the prestigious Hong Kong Football Club.
Cornes, 31, hails from Santiago in Spain and helped his country to eighth place at the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship last December in Washington D.C.
Now, the Spaniard is looking to pass on his knowledge to improve the squash operations of one of the biggest squash clubs in Hong Kong – we caught up with him to discuss his new role.
Carlos, thanks for joining us – what kind of work will you be doing at HKFC?
Cornes: First of all, thanks for giving me the chance to talk with you guys, it really means a lot. About my job, well it’s a completely new role here at the HKFC.
We are really focusing on creating a solid structure from juniors all the way to masters. It’s a lovely club with loads of things happening throughout the season. I’ve helped to introduce a new junior academy and am working with the squash committee to ensure the section is as vibrant as possible, with plenty of options for the members including inter-section matches, Friday squash and social nights, box leagues, charity squash days, tournaments and regular coaching and training activities.
We have huge potential at the club with over 400 active members so we can’t wait to see what the future brings.
How did this role come into fruition?
Cornes: Well, I was already thinking about bringing my career as a pro player to an end, and when lockdown happened me and my family decided that it was time to try to search for new challenges and a lifetime experience. We obviously had different offers and opportunities, but when the HKFC showed interest, it was a pretty easy decision to make.
In my humble opinion, there’s no better place in the world to be involved with squash.
What is squash like in Hong Kong at the moment?
Cornes: Squash in Hong Kong is in a really healthy place. With a number of top ranked mens and ladies tour players that regularly make the local headlines, squash has become a hugely popular sport in the past 10 years.
There are loads of juniors taking up squash and a lot of talent coming through who will hopefully take on the mantle of the likes of Max Lee, Leo and Annie Au, and Joey Chan. The future is bright and I’m hugely excited about being part of that.
What is life like in Hong Kong at the moment during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Cornes: Covid has certainly made things difficult this year and my arrival in Hong Kong was delayed by a couple of months as the HKFC sports facilities were closed as part of the territory’s lockdown rules. But things are slowly getting back to ‘normal’. The courts were opened four weeks ago and at this stage we are allowed four people on court. The junior academy has restarted, as well as some internal HKFC leagues and a few social events, so I guess that’s a great starting point.
What will this role mean for your life as a pro player?
Cornes: It means the world to me. On one hand, it’s pretty sad that after 10 years on tour I won’t be able to compete anymore, but at the same time I have new challenges, new ways of living the game that we all love.
I still have to train a bit because I’ll be playing league for the HKFC, and believe it or not, Division 1 here is quite strong so let’s see how that goes.
What have the past six months been like for you personally with everything going on?
Cornes: Not great, but I guess it’s been the same for everyone. I was lucky enough to be with my family in the countryside in Spain for 5 months.
I was also going through the process of getting the new job, which came through. And my wife and I are expecting a baby which is due in February, so 2020 wasn’t that bad for me at all.