Ace coach Bajwa on a different mission now28 July, 2010

Having guided eight-time world champion Jansher Khan, former world number six Mir Zaman Gul and more recently India’s Siddharth Suchde, to name a few, Satinder Bajwa has enviable credentials in squash but the Indian-born American’s ‘Khelshala’ project is probably his biggest task yet.

The year-old Khelshala, a charity organisation based in Chandigarh, deals with helping individuals in various aspects of their lives using squash as primary tool. After a successful turnover in the first couple of months, the project extended to Bangalore, and efforts are being made to organise camps once every three months.

“My objective is to work on the overall development of a human being and use squash to draw them in,” Satinder said in an interview with Deccan Herald during his brief visit to Bangalore this week. “Khelshala offers tuitions, music and other co-curricular activities to help players grow in every way.”

Satinder, schooled in the United Kingdom, took up squash as a hobby and found some success but his calling was elsewhere. A late start to his professional career — which didn’t go in the direction desired — and an eagerness to guide the younger generation led the former world number 32 to take up coaching. His resilience and grit then made him one of the top coaches in the world.

“I played professionally for a while and the fact that I started late didn’t help the cause. When I was 33 I realised it was time to move on and don a different role and my love for the sport made me take up coaching,” said the British Airways Aeronautical Engineering School graduate.

After taking up the role of head coach in United States Military Academy, which lasted three years, Satinder coached Mir but his work reached its pinnacle when he ‘mentored’ Pakistani great Jansher.

“I used to train Mir, who reached a career high sixth in the world, and through him I met Jansher. By then Jansher had already won the world title twice and my job was to basically keep him focused for more. He was a little like the McEnroe of squash and my job was more mentoring than coaching. I mean, he was the world number one, what more could I have had to teach him?” Satinder said.

On the talent in India, Satinder, who was the coach at Harvard University from 1999 to April this year, said: “There have been some really good players in the past but as of now Saurav Ghosal is really the number one. He has everything it takes, he should be in the top-five. In the women’s category, it has to be Joshna Chinnappa. That girl is very good but has suffered due to bad luck.”