By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIA’S veteran squash player, Tienie Botha, will be joining the Zimbabwean team as an invited guest player, when they compete at the South African (SA) Masters Squash Tournament in Port Elizabeth next month.
(SA) Masters Squash Tournament is an annual tournament event, which takes place from 8 to 12 September in Port Elizabeth and is contested in five age groups, from 35 to 80-plus, and typically draws between 800 and 1 000 players.
With Botha being Namibia’s only active squash player over the age of 65, the Land of the Brave is not able to assemble a five-man team for the 65 to 69 years of age category, to compete in the SA Masters.
In an interview with Confidente this week, the 68-year-old veteran player said he has featured in the Zimbabwean team for the past three years.
“The competition rules are strict, and thus I can only play as an invited guest player, but not for any South African teams,” he said.
Botha has also competed in eight World Masters Squash Tournaments. These are individual entry events, held every two years, and Botha has competed in Australia, Germany, Britain and Hong Kong
“In 2016, I was the runner-up in the Plate final in my age group (65 to 69 years) in Johannesburg. World Masters Squash attracted over 800 entries, from 67 countries.“Several Namibian players intend competing in the 2018 World Masters Squash in Virginia in the United States of America,” Botha said. The passionate squash player, who plays four times a week, also represented Namibia at the 2014 World Masters Squash Championship, held in Hong Kong.
Also representing Namibia was his son Archie Botha, who played in the 35 to 39-year-old category, as well as Rudi and Lientjie Koekemoer from Walvis Bay, who are also regular World Masters participants.
Asked why he chose squash as a sport, Botha said that he used to play rugby, soccer and hockey, but fell in love with squash.
He said that according to a survey by Forbes magazine, squash has been recognised as the number one health and fitness sport in the world. Botha urged more young people to play the sport, while saying that it should be introduced to all the corners of the country.
Curtis Kriel (10) and 17-year-old Linda Mari Calitz also reflected on their love for the sport this week.
Calitz said that she started playing squash in 2014 before adding that she is passionate about the sport, although many people do not know about it. She said that her wish was for squash to be introduced into the country’s schools. Calitz, who is a pupil at Windhoek International School, said that she will continue playing squash, and hopes to continue playing at university next year.
Kriel said that his inspiration comes from his father and older brother, Lindsay.
He said that he hopes to represent Namibia at international competitions in future, and thanked his family for being supportive, especially his mother, who he described as his pillar of strength.
Kriel, who is a pupil at Windhoek Gymnasium Private School, said that he will work harder on improving his skills, with the help of his family.
Botha said that N$700 000 is needed to build a proper squash court. The sport is mainly being played in the capital, Swakopmund, Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo, Oranjemund and Rosh Pinah.
Squash is extremely popular in Egypt and Pakistan, which has produced many of the world’s top players. The sport is played by two or four players in a four-walled court, with a small, hollow rubber ball. The equipment needed is a squash ball, rackets and goggles.
Among the current strongest countries are Australia, Egypt, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015