the news magazine of the Indian squash Professionals, distributed free of
cost to sporting clubs and institutions all over the country and to more
than 3,000 individuals, has completed its golden jubilee. The brainchild
of Mahendra Agarwal, the founder member of ISP, the magazine has grown
from the initial issue of four pages to its current 16-page avataar.
The magazine has provided a platform for squash players at all levels to
gain exposure, glean information and voice their grievances, with pride of
place being awarded to the professionals (called markers) the backbone of
any sport in the country.
The magazine has focused on the grass root level, awarded scholarships to
deserving kids, helped talented players gain sponsorships and has also
benefited a lot of youngsters seeking admissions abroad in reputed
The 50th issue of PROSQUASH was released recently by ISP Executive
Director Anil Diggikar (Additional Municipal Commissioner of BMC,
Projects) along with ISP founder director Mahendra Agarwal in the presence
of talented youngster Mahesh Mangaonkar, the junior British Open champion
and Noreena, VP, ISP.
no longer ‘markers’ but ‘professionals’. This duo helped the
city’s squash trainers to reclaim their game.
Article in Indian Express :
take you through your first steps and patiently see you past teething
problems till you get a grip on the nuances of the game.
it was only a decade ago that ‘markers’ sparring partners in squash,
received their first real rush – recognition for the sweat and toil
behind the champions of the game.
Mahendra Agarwal, who practiced at a held club with Chandrakant Pawar, a
nine-times ‘professionals’ (markers are now known as
‘professionals’) National Champion: “For five years, Pawar has been
telling me that a tournament needed to be organized for professionals
alone. I finally agreed and a couple of my friends came forward to sponsor
Thus, in 1993, the
first ever squash tourney for professionals was conducted at Otter’s
Club, Bandra, Which incidentally Pawar himself won. Thrilled by the
response, Agarwal and Pawar decided that professional who hail from humble
backgrounds, needed an organization of their own. So they started Indian
Squash Professionals (ISP).
National Champion Raj Manchanda had once impressed upon me the idea of
getting together the markers, who work in various clubs around Mumbai,”
says the softspoken Pawar.
the 11 years since, the ISP has organized 53 tournaments-and has given
professionals a sense of belonging. Apart from annual get-togethers,
Agarwal also ensures that they travel out of Mumbai to participate in
its nurturing role, the ISP decided to ‘adopt’ Arif Paul, a talented
teenager from a middle class family with loads of potential, in 1996. Paul
went on to win the U-19 Nationals. He also received a squash scholarship
with Denison College, Ohio, and now works with a banking firm in Scotland.
Another adoptee, Deepali Anvekar, also went on to become an U-19 National
A Mid Day Correspondent
January 22, 2004
Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM) has commended Mahendra
Agarwal for his untiring efforts in the promotion of squash.
Agarwal is the Founder-Director Indian Squash Professionals (ISP) which
will celebrate its Golden Jubilee tournament at the Khar Gymkhana next
“Mahendra’s achievement is mind-boggling, when you consider the
problems and hard work involved in weaning our sports sponsors away from
their love affair with the game of cricket.” said SRAM president Khalid
Ansari in a message.
In keeping with the cricket fever which has gripped the nation, Ansari
made a cricket-related comparison to Agarwal’s half century feat. “It
is said that although Sunil Gavaskar had an insatiable appetite for runs,
he did not bother overly about keeping an eye on the score-board when at
the crease. Garnering runs was his magnificent obsession.
“Similarly, despite his all-consuming passion for the game — which has
found expression through a red hot zeal to set up new squash courts,
organise new and more and more tournaments — the indefatigable Mahendra
has seldom cared to keep count of his achievements.”
Roping in sponsors for non-cricket sports is an uphill task for most
sports promoters but Agarwal, according to Ansari put the onus on himself.
“He (Agarwal) has also taken short cuts by putting his hands in his own
(oversized) pockets to make funds available, whenever they have not been
forthcoming,” the SRAM president said.
Apart from organising squash tournaments and coaching camps, Agarwal’s
efforts in inviting international coaches such as Rehmat Khan (Pakistan
and UK) and Abdul Shaikh (Canada) to coach club players and professionals
“Mahendra’s feat is undeniably unparalleled in the history of Indian
and — arguably — world sport. In all likelihood, it merits inclusion
in the Guinness Book of Records and, of course, it’s Indian equivalent
— the Limca Book of Records,” remarked Ansari
and still going strong
A Mid Day Correspondent
January 21, 2004
could see a contended smile on Mahendra Agarwal’s face. The founder
director of the Indian Squash Professional (ISP), yesterday, took the
opportunity to announce the Hero Honda-Khar Gymkhana ISP Golden Jubilee
One would wonder about the smile and satisfaction that Agarwal was
wearing. Well, it had to be. ISP, a non-governmental organization will be
conducting its 50th tournament since its inception in 1993.
‘‘It may not sound as good as it can be felt. For ISP it is a big
moment,’’ said an excited Agarwal, whose ISP acclaimed appreciation
right from prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to his deputy Lal Krishna
With as many as three to four tournament held every year before 1993,
today, with the help of ISP the sport enjoys at least one tournament per
month. In the last couple of years the number must have crossed over 12.
The number game does not end here. The rise in tournament has certainly
helped to increase participation. ‘‘We hardly received 50-60 entries
when we first started organising the tournament. I can proud claim that
the tournament today attracts over 200 participants,’’ stated the
ISP’s growth has not only been in terms of participation but also in
terms of prize money.
In the first tournament — conducted only for professionals — the
winner went home with a haul of Rs 4000. The total prize money involved
was Rs 30,000.
In 1997, the individual winner in the Videocon Classic Squash
tournament was given Rs 25,000 out of a total of Rs 4 lakh.
The record for the highest individual prize money was broken last year in
the Herald Maritime Services tournament when the men’s champions got
richer by Rs 75,000.
The Hero Honda-Khar Gymkhana tourney has once again attracted top players.
Though the prize money may not be as attractive as one might have hoped,
ISP insists that the tourney’s surely close to their heart.
The Hero Honda tournament will be held between January 25 and February 1.
Successes and Building Careers
by The Express MAGAZINE, Mumbai October 21, 2001.
game needs icons to survive. Equally, no game can last long if it fails to
get its fair share of monetary gains and good administration.
like all other indoor games, over the years has been confined to the four
walls of a few private clubs scattered across the country. The game’s
mere presence was threatened a couple of years ago in Maharashtra after
the State Government refused to recognize its governing body when it came
to identifying the winners of State’s highest sports title – Shiv
And one cannot squarely blame the
Government for its ignorance because the governing body – the Squash
Racquet Association of Maharashtra (SRAM), had hardly done anything for
the game. Till 1989, there was no tournament held for the professionals.
Then arrived a man who changed it all.
Agarwal, a builder by profession, developed an addiction for the game
which he started playing only at the age of 29. Earlier, he had never
attempted any other game. “To cure my back ailment, I was advised by the
doctor to take up any game which needed a player to bend very often. Hotel
Leela Kempinski had just come up and it only had squash on offer. I took
up the game,” said Agarwal, when The Indian Express caught up with him
at his Andheri office.
rest, as they say is history. Agarwal has been the driving force in
creating several landmarks in the history of Indian squash. After having
learnt the basics from marker Riaz Mohammed, who turned professional
later, Agarwal decided to delve deeper and organized the first ever
tournament for the professionals in the state in 1993. Since then, he has
been instrumental in conducting 39 tournaments, sponsoring most of them
joined by some like-minded associates, set up the Indian Squash for
Professionals (ISP), with the sole aim of looking after the needs of
professionals. Unlike SRAM, ISP started making inroads immediately. In the
same year, ISP decided to sponsor Arif Paul – the first player among the
three, whose expenses borne by ISP for a year. Paul went to the United
States on a scholarship, thanks to his squash skills, and is currently
working with a bank in Germany.
Anvekar followed next. Her term was extended later by another two years.
ISP went further by adopting Priyanka Yadav, daughter of then Additional
Commissioner of Police, SPS Yadav.
the players were benefiting, ISP ensured that the game was developed all
round. In 1997, Rehmat Khan, coach of ex-world champion Jahangir Khan was
invited to train the markers. He was also given a two year contract worth
Rs.2 Lakh to work as the
director of coaching. A separate coaching camp for ladies was also
ISP, came its next biggest venture. With the world getting hooked on to
the Internet, ISP too joined the band wagon by its launching its site – www.ispsquash.com
, an encyclopedia on squash complimenting the newsletter Pro Squash
published every three months.
a database has not been easy so far. Apart from daily updates for the
website, compiling the newsletter is no mean task. “I used to get it
done from outside but that was costing me a lot. That is when I decided to
learn the basics myself. And after six months, I can now update the site
myself,” reveals Agarwal.
association with Khalid Ansari, chairman of the Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd.
and squash writer, late Raju Chainani, got him the ideas to fuel his
passion of making squash popular.
managed to persude him to come into the SRAM fold as its joint-secretary,
a post he holds currently after former president Vaman Apte failed to do
so far two years. The Khalid Ansari – Chainani partnership was also
instrumental in getting the State’s recognition for SRAM last year. And
it was Ansari’s dream concept of public squash courts that decided
Agarwal’s next major course of action.
month saw the opening of the first ever-public squash court at the Andheri
Sports Complex and the ball has just begun to roll. Another one has come
up at Pimpri-Chinchwad near Pune, while plans are afoot for the third one.
Besides, the Police Gymkhana has agreed to give their courts to the SRAM
members for stipulated hours.
brought up the game significantly, Agarwal has gotten over Chainani’s
demise quickly to persist with the rejuvenated SRAM’s purpose of
spreading the game. “We have broken the monopoly of the earlier four
city clubs – Otters Club, Bombay Gymkhana, Khar Gymkhana and the Cricket
Club of India, and have incorporated as many as 13 affiliates so far. The
game has go to the interiors of Maharashtra with courts at Kolhapur,
Sangli, Aurangabad, Solapur, Satara, Nanded, Osmanabad and Ahmednagar,”
love and focused determination has clearly been a rolling stone in the
game’s history over the last decade and his achievements certainly
ensures a bright future for the sport.