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Bentick nurturing youths in Squash

Bentick  nurturing youths in Squash

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by Neal Jackman Dec.08.06

Few things make a country beam with pride more than a victory during an international competitive event. Though it takes what seems like forever to get to that point, one coach here feels strongly about the chances of Vincentian youth making it that far in the near future in the sport of squash.

This is the projection of St Vincent and OECS head coach James Bentick who recently received the Continental Squash Course Diploma in San Salvador after completing the three-day inaugural course between 22 to 24 November.{{more}}

According to Bentick, an 18-year squash veteran, the main beneficiaries of his fresh techniques would be the most talented among the young players since the aim of his new training is to seek out the best squash athletes at the beginner level and train them using newly developed specialty skills to gradually take them to the world elite level.

Already a Level 1 and 2 English Certified Squash coach, Bentick has done his part in nurturing interested youngsters by introducing the game to students at the Bishop’s College, Kingstown Anglican and St Mary’s Roman Catholic schools. “The kids are taking to it with some apprehension because the game is new to them,” he said.

Coach Bentick went on to reveal that around 30 per cent of these children had shown a solid interest in the sport and were voluntarily involved in the National Lotteries Squash Centre’s Saturday training sessions. Although the school programme has been ongoing for two years James made it clear that the Saturday sessions for juniors have been a staple of his squash programme for seven years as a means of preparing youngsters for OECS and CASA (Caribbean Area Squash Association) regional tournaments.

This is the first of its kind anywhere, he said, where the International Olympic Committee has financially assisted the top coaches from 24 countries in the Caribbean, South and Central America towards the development of a sport that is not even an Olympic sport.

This was shared by the Olympic Committee of El Salvador and its Coordination of Courses programme which was supported by the Pan-American Sport Organization (ODEPA) and approved by the Commission of Pan-American Olympic Solidarity for 2006. The programme also sought to update regional trainers in the advances of squash and sciences applied to the sport, also to elevate the qualification of the best of the coaches who train top athletes and finally to prepare the coaches for efficiently working with their high performance athletes. The tutoring in San Salvador, El Salvador was conducted by Gene Turk, Canadian Head Coach and coach of former world number one Squash player Jonathan Power.

Bentick, St Vincent’s top Coach for 2005 went on to say “it is unfortunate that the game is not yet an Olympic sport given that it is physically more demanding to play squash, where a player can burn 900 calories an hour, than it is to play tennis, basketball or badmington where players lose an average of 480 calories in a comparative amount of time on court.”

He greatly credits the National Lotteries Squash Centre for this country having three finalists in the junior categories of under 13, under 15, and under 17 boys, an increase over 2004 where only one junior player made it to the finals.

“The course was enlightening, a lot of knowledge was passed on to me and I cannot wait to share my knowledge with my students.

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