It’s hard to
find visionaries in the field of sport. India has not taken sports
on a professional basis and we have amateurs in charge of sports
some which are played in high professional standards.
But there are
exceptions. One such is Mahendra Jagdish Agarwal, the Founder
Director of Indian Squash Professionals (ISP), the only non profit
making sports NGO of India since 1993.
During the past
years, Mr. Agarwal has organized and sponsored several squash
tournaments, camps and programmes. In January 1993, during his
squash training at The Leela, he thought of sponsoring a squash
tournament for the first time in India for the Professionals
category by forming an NGO named ISP. ISP was also
instrumental in introducing Doubles squash tournament in India way
back in 1993...
Together with other
committee members he focused on promoting squash in India mainly in the
interiors of Maharashtra and exposing the the game to the masses. His goal
was to provide an integrated platform to the youngsters and help them
prepare for International events by identifying talents. He also
restructured the foundation of the Professionals - who were the backbone
of Indian Squash by setting up systems, procedures and performance
Fondly described as
focused, passionate, sincere and dynamic, Mr. Agarwal has involved himself
completely in promotion of the game and has succeeded to a big extent with
his energetic leadership, vision and spirit over the years.
Renowned as a
successful builder in Mumbai, Mr Agarwal, knows the sacrifices and work it
takes to become the best and is now set to provide the opportunity to our
talented Indian squash players to do the same. He is striving to take
squash to its highest peak by adopting young talented, promising players
and grooming them from scratch and giving them that extra boost to break
Mr. Agarwal started
publishing India’s leading squash magazine "PROSQUASH" which
he distributes at no cost to India’s squash fraternity. Simultaneously,
he launched India’s first squash website which is being updated daily.
Mr. Agarwal has to his
credit the conceptualization and operation of the first ever sports NGO,
which has also been appreciated by ex-Prime Minister, ex-Deputy Prime
Minister, Vice-President, Sports Minister & Chief Election
from Khalid A-H.Ansari (Chairman, Mid-day
organising 75th Platinum Jubilee tournament
From the Desk of Khalid A-H Ansari
On behalf of the Squash
Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM) I have a great pleasure in
conveying our very best wishes to the Indian Squash Professionals (ISP) on
their historic 75th squash tournament.
Given the general dearth
of sponsors for sports disciplines other than cricket in our country, the
feat of organising 75 Squash tournaments in any state in our Country is,
indeed, praiseworthy. It deserves inclusion in the Guinness and Limca Books
The yeoman services that
the ISP has been rendering to the game Squash by catering to the financial
needs of our professional, by popularising the sport in far-flung corners of
our state and through its pursuit of excellence, is commendable.
We at the Squash Racquets
Association of Maharashtra are grateful to ISP, to its selfless
Founder-Director Mahendra Agarwal and its committed and indefatigable team
of office-bearers for the unstinted help they have giving us over the years.
If the number of squash
players in the state has increased astronomically, if the number of squash
courts, tournament, competitors and coaching camps have multiplied
exponentially, if the prize money on offer has reached hitherto unimaginable
levels, a great deal of credit must, in all fairness, go to ISP, whose
efforts have also been lauded by former prime minister Shri Atal Behati
Vajpayee and other prominent leaders.
In addition to
“adopting” five promising young players, ISP-the country’s only
non-government-aided sports NGO-has its own website and publishes the widely
circulated magazine, “PROSQUASH” to Promote the sports.
We are given to
understand that the 75th edition of the ISP tournament, which is
offering prize money in excess of Rs. 5 lakhs, has attracted players from
all over the country and abroad in 18 categories from Under-7 to Over-60
While congratulating ISP,
I take this opportunity of conveying our very wishes for the success of the
tournament. The century beckons!
Khalid A-H Ansari
Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra
from Ranjan Sanghi (Director, Sah and Sanghi
Group and President Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra) for
organising 75th Platinum Jubilee tournament
Indian Squash Professionals
Office No.2, Ground Floor,
Marol Maroshi Road,
Mumbai 4000 059
On behalf of the Squash
Racquets Association Of Maharashtra (SRAM) I have great pleasure in
congratulating the Indian Squash Professional and founder-director Mr.
Mahendra Agarwal on their Dimonds Jubilee Tournament and Wish the players
all the success and assure them of our support and co-operation at all
I would also like to
convey our appreciation foe the wonderful progress that ISP has and has
continued to make a mark in promoting the game of squash and taking it to
the masses. ISP has organized several tournaments and improved the standers
of Players in Maharashtra by way of organizing coaching at various clubs.
I take this opportunity
to wish them the very best and many more years of monumental success in all
their future endeavors.
For SQUASH RACQUETS ASSOCIATION OF
POISED TO MAKE SPORTING HISTORY (Article in Afternoon :
The Indian Squash
Professionals (ISP), the only non-profit making sports NGO in the
India, functioning since 1993 is poised on the brink of an important
milestone and founder director Mahendra Jagdish Agarwal is happy
man, but far from contented. Happy because appreciation support for
the activities of ISP is growing by the day and not content because
there is lot of work yet to be done.
1993, till date , ISP has organized 73 tournaments, 26 free coaching
camp all over India (including Rajkot and Mussorie) and adopted five
players (Arif Paul, Deepali Anvekar, Priyanka Yadav, Abhishek
Pradhan and Ankita Sharma). The ISP also has its own website, www.ispsquash.com,
which is the only active squash website in the India, updated daily
an average of 1.50,000 hits. The ISP also publishes a new magazine,
“PROSQUASH” , which is being distributed to 3000 squash players
free of cost and read by 15,000 squash lovers throughtout the
country. This magazine has completed 38 issues. Yet, Agarwal is
striving to do more, much more.
The ISP Platinum
Jubilee All India Squash Carnival, to be held from January 26 to 31
at The Club and Juhu Vile Parle Gymkhana promises to be the biggest
yet. Offering prize money Rs 5.54 Lakhs, the tournament will feature
the cream of India’s talent, besides talented players from abroad
who will be invited and hosted for the event.
The ISP has many
firsts to its credit, thanks to the initiatives of Agarwal. Together
with other committee members he focused on promoting squash in the
interiors of Maharashtra (Nanded, Beed, Satara, Pimpri,
Kolhapur,Solapur, Aurangbad, Thane & Nasik) exposing masses to
the game. He also restructured the foundation of the professionals
– who were the backbone of Indian squash by setting up systems,
procedures and performance standards. before 1993, a squash
professional in Mumbai would get a mere salary of 2500 or 3000
rupees but now they minimum of Rs. 10000 per month.
involved himself completely in promotion of the game and has
succeeded to quite an extent with his energetic leadership, vision
and spirit over the years. As committee member of the Squash
Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM), Agarwal succeeded in
getting up three public squash courts in Andheri sports complex,
Mumbai, Police Gymkhana, Mumbai and the Pimpri Chinchwad, Municipal
Coorporation squash court in Pune.
If you apply the
expression “give till it hurts”, that is popular with charity
organisations, to Mahendra Agarwal's contribution to Indian squash over the
past 16 years, you will have to conclude that the self-effacing Kerry Packer
of Indian squash has a superhuman threshold of pain.
It would be no
exaggeration for me to say that in all my 40 years' association with Indian
sport in different capacities at various levels all over our country, I have
not come across a sports patron and organiser as visionary, large-hearted,
selfless and devoted as Mahendra.
He is the fulcrum that
gives the Indian Squash Professionals (ISP), as also the Squash Racquets
Association (SRAM), of which I am privileged to be Chairman Emeritus,
balance and power.
If the game of squash has
reached its present level of popularity in terms of number of players,
courts, tournaments, coaching facilities and prize money (not to mention the
attraction that draws to it students aspiring to go abroad on
squash scholarships), a great deal of credit must deservedly go to largely
to Mahendra Agarwal, his band of dedicated workers in ISP and his colleagues
in the SRAM.
Having started PROSQUASH,
his expensive hobby, under the guidance of the late Raju Chainani, the
trail-blazing squash correspondent of the Times of India and Sportsweek (his
contribution in popularising the game of squash in Maharashtra was
immeasurable) and Pradeep Vijayakar, the Times all-round Sports Journalist.
Mahendra has taken the game to never-dreamt-of heights nation-wide through
his unique publication.
the coverage of PROSQUASH is nation-wide; its reach and influence among
players, coaches and administrators, as also in the corridors of power in
New Delhi, considerable.
Those of us in the
business of newspaper and magazine publishing know only too well what it
takes in terms of blood, tears, toil and sweat to regularly bring out any
publication of consistent quality.
Mahendra to have published 50 issues of PROSQUASH, a journal of record for
posterity, which zealously spreads the gospel of squash to more than 3000
members of the burgeoning fraternity at his own expense and no cost to
squash lovers in India and abroad with impressive regularity, is remarkable
by any yardstick.
As it well known, the unassuming
Mahendra has gathered around him a dedicated band of workers who assist
in bringing out the professionally produced publication. Having
witnessed their contagious labour of love, I have no doubt that all of us,
who eagerly look forward to receiving copies of PROSQUASH, will have the
pleasure of reading its 100th issue.
Those of us who realize the enormity of
his contribution to the game of squash are also hoping that recognition in
the form of state and central government awards will soon come his deserved
launched the first PROSQUASH in December 1996 along with Vaman Apte, Subhash
Wali, Mahendra Agarwal, Ajoy Bhandare and Rahmat Khan
The golden jubilee
beckons for PROSQUASH. It's hard to believe that 50 issues of the newsletter
have reached out to more than 3000 squash fraternity all over the country
It seems only the other
day that Mahendra Agarwal called me to explore the idea about a newsletter
about the project he was embarking on promoting the interests of the squash
We decided to call them
professionals since they were making a living from the game. Thus I coined
the world PRO and added the word SQUASH. And PROSQUASH was born.
The world of squash was a
small compact one. There were the south Mumbai clubs like CCI, Bombay
Gymkhana and Willingdon Sports Club and at the other end there was Otters
Club. They would organise tournaments and leave it at that. All they got was
a mention in some of the newspapers, none in the language papers.
It took the vision of
Mahendra Agarwal to go beyond that, provide opportunities for the
professionals by first organising tournaments exclusively for them.When people began flocking to these events interest grew five-fold.
Agarwal then began having tournaments for them and we had the start of the
handicap and doubles events. In time five-star hotels began evincing
interest. If The Leela, with guidance of Capt Nair and son Vivek, was the
first hub, others came in its wake and even though The Leela courts closed,
squash continues to flourish at the other hotels, clubs providing jobs for
All this pioneering
activity needed to be chronicled for posterity. Raju Chainani was bringing
out his newsletter “SIMPLY SQUASH” but he was more international and
didn't devote much time to the grassroots game. He advised Mahendra Agarwal
to come up with Newsletter which had more of Indian squash news.PROSQUASH decided to highlight the activities. As the activities grew
the news increased from four to the present sixteen pages.
PROSQUASH began featuring
other development activities like coaching camps. When Rehmat Khan, the
coach of Jahangir, made Mumbai his home, PROSQUASH featured him, enlarging
his image which he capitalised upon to make big money. PROSQUASH, more than
the newspapers highlighted the other great Pakistan player-coach Mohibullah
Khan when he stopped over on way back to Karachi.
In time PROSQUASH began
featuring the youngsters. Now this is a very important contribution.
Youngsters and their parents keep these cuttings carefully and when the time
comes for admission for foreign universities and squash scholarships these
come useful. There are many number of youngsters who thus benefited.
PROSQUASH has played a big role in this.
Then came the tussle with
officialdom. It was felt that the national federation was being run in a
high-handed manner. Juniors' entries were not allowed to besubmitted to foreign events unless the national federation was
involved. Draws of tournaments were fudged to favour some players. All this
injustice had to be highlighted. PROSQUASH began playing this role. People
looked to PROSQUASH rather than the national papers to take up cudgels on
behalf of the aggrieved players.
As the sport of squash
spread people in places apart from the metros began having activities. These
were not being highlighted by the national media. PROSQUASH began featuring
them, events in Chandigarh, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Hyderabad, Pune, Ajmer, Bellary
and Indore began getting the prominence they needed.
All in all PROSQUASH has
played its role in taking the sport of squash to another level. The more the
merrier saying applies to sport. There is the national federation, there are
the clubs and there is looming presence ofIndian Squash Professionals using its ingenuity to create events that
capture the imagination of people beyond the squash courts.
has reflected this ingenuity and its special issues have been even more
special. Let's hope PROSQUASH marches on to the other suceeding jubilees in
a manner that will capture the imagination of a grateful squash fraternity.
One 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 Advani.
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.
The 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
Since cricket is very
much the flavour of the month, it may not be altogether out of place to
draw a parallel between legend Sunil Manohar Gavaskar and Mahendra
Agarwal, our very own squash lover and patron.
It is said that
although 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, organize new and more and more
tournaments – The indefatigable Mahendra has seldom cared to keep count
of his achievements.
The Founder –
Director (He is much too young and young-at-heart to be called grand
daddy) of Indian squash Professionals (ISP), Mahendra Agarwal will achieve
the distinction of organizing its Golden Jubilee tournament next week at
Mumbai’s Khar Gymkhana.
achievements is mind – boggling, when you consider the problems and hard
work involved in weaning our sports sponsors away from their love affairs
with the game of cricket.
But then, he has also
taken short cuts by putting his hands in his own (oversized) pockets to
make funds available, whenever they have not been forthcoming.
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
Apart from tournaments,
Mahendra has organized free coaching camps in various parts of the
such as Rehmat Khan (Pakistan and U.K) and Abdul Shaikh (Canada) have been
called upon to hone the skills of club players and professionals (markers)
personal efforts to improve the lot of our markers are well-known
Moreover, ISP has “adopted” four players set up its own website www.ispsquash.com
and continues to publish the country’s leading squash magazine “PROSQUASH”,
which is distributed free of cost to 3000 players and read by an estimated
15,000 lovers of the game in India and abroad.
On behalf of the Squash
Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM) and the burgeoning squash
community of our states, I have great pleasure in wishing ISP and Mahendra
Agarwal on their Golden Jubilee tournament and conveying to them our very
best wishes for the future in their commendable endeavours.
Khalid A-H Ansari
Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra
THEY take you through your first steps
and patiently see you get a grip on the nuances of the
game. But 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.
Recalls builder Mahendra
Agarwal, who practiced at a health club with Chandrakant
Pawar, nine-time ‘professionals’ (markers are now known
‘professionals’) National champion: “For five years,
Pawar had been telling me that a tournament needed to be
organised for professionals alone. I finally agreed and
a couple of my friends came forward to sponsor the
tourney.” 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
professionals, who hail from humble backgrounds, needed
an organization of their own. So they started Indian
Squash Professionals (ISP).
champion Raj Manchanda had once impressed upon me the
idea of getting together the markers, who work in
various clubs around Mumbai,” says the soft-spoken
In the 11 years since, the ISP has
organised 53 tournaments—and has given professionals a
sense of belonging. Apart from annual get-togethers,
Agarwal also ensures that they out of Mumbai to
participate in national tourneys.
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. Anvekar, also went on to become an U-19
and good work begins at home, is an adage that is being taken literally by
members of Mumbai’s squash fraternity and their benevolence has
benefited the game tremendously. Squash has never had it so good.
The example set by the Indian Squash Professionals (ISP), whose efforts
have seen the sporting body earn the distinction of becoming the only NGO
to have organised 50 tournaments, seems to have rubbed off on other
individuals, who have provided their unstinting support to promote squash.
The latest in the list of benefactors is a group of individuals who pooled
in their resources to finance the recently concluded Tulip Star-ISP squash
tournament at the Hotel Tulip Star. All members of the Tulip Star Health
Club who play doubles squash contributed Rs 10,000 each to make this 53rd
ISP event possible.
The tournament, received more than 48 entries in the doubles and had
players from Chembur Gymkhana, Mandpeshwar Club, Dahisar, Goregaon Sports
Club, Matunga Gymkhana, CCI, Bombay Gymkhana and Country Club
participating, some clubs that would never have featured in a squash event
even as recently as five years back.
That the game has spread to the entire city is an understatement. Much of
the credit should go to people like Vicky Kalludi, Mukesh Desai, Ganesh
Jain, Vivek Abrol, Salim Mistry, Ayub Ghori, Sunil Goel, Bunty Singh,
Aslam Lashkaria, who came together to make the event possible.
Of the above nine names, Kalludi has sponsored two squash tournaments and
will sponsor one more in June 2004. Desai and 52-year-old Mistry were the
winners at the Juhu Centaur-ISP squash in May 2002 and felt the need to
make some financial contribution in order to keep the event going.
Going by the current trend, the future of squash seems to be in healthy
hands as all the above have one common aim: to make squash more popular.
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Indian Squash Professionals
B/705, 7th Floor, Raylon Arcade, Next to Pidilite, Kondivita Lane, Andheri -East, Mumbai – 400 059
Tel : 9122-28314425/26/27
Mobile : +919819921785