• ATCO Junior Open 2010 • 25-29 June, Cairo  •  

ATCO Junior Open EXTRAS                                         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 that one).

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 why:

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.

Champions' Academy

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 soon enough.

One of the recurring themes is ATCO, so naturally we had to find out how his association with the PSA Chairman's company started:

"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 in Cairo.

"Ziad said 'ok, let's start with the academy for the next three years and see where we go from there'."

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 achievement ...

#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 squash courts.

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


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