Discussions ongoing on possible age-group change for Junior Squash Championships

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By Akeem Greene

This year’s Junior Caribbean Squash Championships, which were slated for Bermuda in July, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

However, with the hope that a tournament can be held in 2021, there are ongoing preliminary discussions on whether changes can be made to accommodate those who would have outgrown their respective age group.

The Junior squash championships are contested in Boys and Girls categories from Under-11 to Under-19 and there are some players in their final year as a Junior, who were eyeing the chance to cop an individual title.

The cancellation of the event means, as of now, that hope is lost, unless a temporary open category is made for the tentative 2021 championships.

Vice-President of the Guyana Squash Association, Owen Verwey, in a recent interview with News Room Sport, explained they have had some discussions on what they can do to possibly accommodate such players if they are able to stage a competition in 2021.

Guyana Squash Association Vice-President, Owen Verwey

Verwey explained that the evolving nature of COVID-19 means it is difficult to make any concrete plans since athletes’ safety is paramount.

“They have been some meetings, more local, but they have been meetings with the Caribbean Squash Association and the others, in discussing how it can be done and what format it will be,” Verwey explained.

“It went further to look at some of the players who would have outgrown those age categories and those would have missed a complete age category for competing; how do we accommodate them? Do we change the age group or do we allow it to be a bit open? Some of the discussions on those areas have already taken place, but because of the COVID situation still evolving [a final decision hasn’t been made].”

The Guyanese are 12-time Junior squash champions, but have played second fiddle to Barbados since 2017, and some pundits had earmarked 2020 as the year the country would regain the title, given the strong core of the team.

At the last championship, there two all-Guyanese finals, out of the four individual titles copped.

Michael Alphonso and Kirsten Gomes won the Under-15 title, while Shomari Wiltshire and Abosaide Cadogan won the Under-17. Second place finishers were Nicholas Verwey (Under-15), Madison Fernandes (Under-17) and Christiana Fernandes (Under-11).

Despite the complexities created by COVID, Verwey said they will continue to develop players who are capable of competing on the international stage.

“The vision of squash is to continue to develop the players in the Guyana market but to a larger extent, the younger players so you will have a larger base of young players with the potential to deliver at competitions, locally, regionally and internationally.”

Apart from missing out on Junior CASA, players have lost the chance to compete at the Junior Pan-Am Games and the Senior CASA this year.

The CASA Executives have shifted the XXXX Junior Caribbean Squash Individual and Team Championships, initially scheduled for July 19-25 in Hamilton, Bermuda, to 2021, likewise the XXVI Senior championships, which were to be held 15-23 August in Kingston, Jamaica, to 2021.

It was also noted that Doubles would be introduced to the 2021 Junior Championships, as was intended for 2020, and age groups will remain as proposed at the 2019 Annual General Meeting.

According to Verwey, the GSA should have its Annual General Meeting in November where a tentative plan for 2021 would be drafted.

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