Ace squash player Dipika Pallikal has raised a red flag just days before the upcoming Asian Games. In a comment on Tuesday, she lamented the lack of a foreign coach for the Indian team. Pointing out that Egyptian coach Achraf Karargui’s exit just before the Commonwealth Games in April was an unfortunate event for the Indian team, she voiced the worries of the players.

“Achraf genuinely cared about all the players. He ensured that a player was in the right frame of mind on and off the court. We could easily relate to him. At the same time, he would push and make us do things to improve our game,” she added.

Responding to her comment, the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) on Thursday slammed Dipika for voicing concerns over the lack of a qualified foreign coach just ahead of Asian Games.

“If we take notice, for the past two days, things are bit cold for squash player. From Pallikal to Saurav Ghosal, the country’s top players have showed worries over the absence of a foreign coach since the sudden exit of Achraf El Karargui days before the Commonwealth Games. Now that they are heading to the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia, they fear losses without a foreign coach by their side,” the SRFI said, News18 reported.

“It is unfortunate that at a time when the focus had to be on the Asian Games with just days remaining, an effort is being made to disrupt the mindset of all concerned with the preparations for the Games,” it added.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Dipika Pallikal has termed the lack of foreign coach as a big hindrance to the squash team’s preparation for the Asian Games in Indonesia.
  • Egyptian coach Achraf Karargui had left just before the  Commonwealth Games in April. Since then, no new foreign coach has been appointed for the squash team.
  • The Squash Rackets Federation of India has criticised Dipika for airing her views on the matter.

Also Read: Joshna Chinappa Makes History As First Indian To Bag Asian Squash Title

Dipika had earlier blamed that the exit of coach Karargui as the most unfortunate development. The players questioned the practice of the current coaches — Cyrus Poncha and Bhuvneshwari Kumari — stating that they can only play the role of administrators in the continental mega event in Indonesia.

“Since we don’t have a full-time coach, it doesn’t leave us with much choice. Their role at the Games is more of an administrator than of a coach. Dealing with off the court issues and communication is with the Indian Olympic Association officials,” said a player.

Before his departure, Karargui slammed the Squash Rackets Federation of India for its “unprofessional attitude”.

“Having Achraf was like a whiff of fresh air. The credit should go to him for whatever we achieved in the last couple of years. He made a big impact in a short time. Unfortunately, he had to leave before the CWG,” Dipika added, Deccan Chronicle reported.

“We are in desperate need of a coach. Cyrus has been with the national team for many years. But when it comes to coaching during matches, players are used to looking after each other. Cyrus only does a managerial role liaising with the federation and organisers,” she added.

Dipika said she had stopped training under Cyrus long ago. “Not just me, Saurav Ghosal hasn’t trained with him for many years. Other players such as Mahesh Mangaonkar and Ramit are on their own and Sunayna Kuruvilla (the third member of the women’s team) is being trained by Balamurugan,” she said.

“To claim now that his absence had affected the preparations is at best an attempt by Dipika to vent her own frustration at the federation for not accepting her request to attest/ratify A Parthiban as her coach to enable the latter to draw the financial benefits which come under the awards scheme,” a federation spokesman stated.

India is sending an eight-player squash team for the Asian Games. The team has been training without a full-time coach.

Feature Image Credit: santabanta.com

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