I admire the venerable Guyanese Squash tradition
Stabroek News
January 20, 2002

Dear Editor,

I suppose if I didn't know better I may share the prejudice against those citizens, whose reward for representing Guyana with distinction and a record of success unmatched by most other disciplines, is the proverbial punishment that finds the doers of good deeds in the form of ill founded and misguided untterances from Mr. Fazil Rasheed. (SN17.1.02 "How many people play squash?") [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ].

It is true that in Guyana squash is only played by a few hundred persons the equipment is somewhat expensive and access to squash courts is indeed limited. The sport has a long way to go to cast off its elitist image it has in our country and perhaps the Guyana Squash Racquets Association may wish to consider embracing the services of the good Mr. Rasheed, in coming up with solutions. But there is where my diplomacy abandons me.

I am employed away from home and family. I miss familiar people and things and like every other patriotic soul, I spend quite a bit of time at odds with those who dare speak ill of Guyana or Guyanese. Fortunately, things are quite different when I meet other squash players. They have a sincere admiration for the venerable Guyanese squash tradition and share my particular pride in Ms. Fernandes' regional and international exploits. I swell like a peacock and carry on perpetually about all our legendary Guyanese players.

I have never laid my eyes upon an actual boxing ring and will a pugilist never be. Yet, I sit in my living room and celebrate whenever one of our boxers duels gallantly in a televised bout. Similarly, while, I will spend the rent money to attend every cricket match during a West Indian home series, I am a hopeless cricketer. Further, as every cricketer or boxer or other athlete discovers eventually, the proper equipment and facilities for serious training can be quite elusive and often more expensive than squash gear. The propostion that one has to be an actual participant or a keen spectator to appreciate and respect the achievements is simply untrue.

I believe that my indignation is shared by all right thinking members of society who know that the title of "national champion", which Mr. Rasheed has decided to trivialize, will in any sport, elude all save the disciplined and the dedicated. The National Sports Council may wish to publish the criteria and encourage public debate so as to safeguard the integrity of its national awards. This year it may even consider including its newest critic, Mr. Rasheed, in the selection process.

The Winter Olympics start in a few weeks. The goodwill engendered in my veins after a true Guyanese Christmas fortifies my ever forgiving heart. Indeed, if Curling were an Olympic sport and Mr. Rasheed its true and undisputed King, I would make my way to Salt Lake City to cheer him on happily draped, of course, with the Golden Arrowhead.

Yours faithfully,

Ronald Burch Smith