The Coronavirus pandemic has hit squash hard, but it has made World Squash Coaching (WSC) think outside the box to progress its aim to provide a unified and standardised coaching structure to WSF member regions and nations.
“Covid has slowed down things, but also pointed in the direction of using distance learning,” revealed WSC programme manager Michael Khan.
“Diego Becerra ran a few L1 courses in Pan America with large parts delivered by distance learning and only assessment being done onsite. Together with SquashSkills, we are currently working on an eLearning Foundation Coach course, set below L1 and aiming to introduce players, parents and PE teachers to coaching squash.”
WSC is a renaming of the old WSF Coaching Commission and is run by a panel chaired by WSF Vice-President Sarah Fitz-Gerald, of which Khan is a member along with Major Maniam (Malaysia), Colin White (Ireland) and Jason Fletcher (New Zealand).
As programme manager, Khan deals with the administrative and operational side, organising courses and conferences, allocating tutors and issuing certificates.
“Peter Hirst (England) was heavily involved writing the syllabi,” the Austrian revealed. “Ronny Vlassaks (Belgium) and Renato Gallego (Brazil), as L3 tutors, are also involved with further developing the programme. It has been and still is a team effort.”
Coaching has been the 54-year-old’s career since he retired from playing in 1996, having represented Austria at 13 European Team Championships (1983-1995) and two World Team Championships (1991 & 1993), reaching a highest PSA ranking of 117.
“I like sharing knowledge and seeing progress of players,” he explained. “Of course, I also enjoy the social part of still being involved in the game that I played since a child.”
Khan did his first coaching qualification when he was only 19, but towards the end of his playing career he attended a Austrian National Sports Academy (ANSA) course. “That was useful when I started working for Austrian Squash,” he remarked.
In 1996 he was appointed general secretary of Austrian Squash and was also placed in charge of the women’s national team and coach education.
In 2003 he organised the World Men’s Team Championship in Vienna and was promoted to president of Austrian Squash, a role he held until 2011.
In 2004 he became a member of the European Squash Federation (ESF) Coaching Committee and was then invited to join the WSF Coaching Committee in 2013.