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Musical Chairs: The Manipulation of Nationalism for
personal gain
achael Grinham smothers Nicol David

© 2001 SquashTalk.com

by Ron Beck

Beck is the editor of SquashTalk and spent five years on the WPSA pro tour)

Pro Squash players are
"changing nationality" at an alarming rate. Perhaps they don’t see
the transparency of their personal motives exhibited in their shifting loyalties.

Peter Nicol, as Scottish as they come, has been training in England for
some time with coach Neil Harvey. Now he is apparently thinking about declaring
himself English. Nicol might head an England Team in future Squash international
team events. (reported in SquashNow this evening) That would break up a potentially
devastating Scottish Team: Peter Nicol, Martin Heath, and Johnny White. I
say potentially, because they haven’t played together — Nicol and Heath refused
to appear as part of the Scottish team at the World’s in Egypt last year.
But wait… Johnny White?

Johnny White grew
up in Australia and was Australian until recently. Now he is officially
Scottish, claimed recently on account of his father’s Nationality. That
let him collect Scottish Sport lottery money. He lived and trained in
Holland, though. Now he’s moved to England in search of an improved training


It’s harder to critique
somone who renounces their South African Nationalism – hosts of South African’s
have moved to locations such as the USA, Holland, Israel, and England for
varied reasons. But Natalie Grainger apparently switched nationality from
South Africa to England also to claim lottery money… OK… but wait – she
presently lives in St. Louis, Missouri USA.

Joe Kneipp has lived and played out of Amsterdam for several years, though
still gets listed as an Australian player. Other top players training in Holland
for significant parts the year have included Anthony Hill and Jonathon Power
to name a few. Malaysian star Nicol David is headed to Amsterdam to train
with Liz Irving while Ong Beng Hee trains with Neil Harvey in England.

Pakistani stars have left Peshawar for a long time – Hashim to the USA,
Mo in a famous secret 2 AM escape to Boston after becoming world champion,
Roshan and Azam to the UK. Anyone who knows the Pakistani players also knows
that they hold forever a strong loyalty to Pakistan, wherever they are.

Amjad’s departure to Singapore, though,
claiming lack of support in Pakistan was more confusing. Pakistan can’t even
field one strong team right now, leaving us all nostalgic for the days when
they could field two teams, the second of which could be second best in the

Meanwhile, Carol Owens refused to play for Australia last summer in the
world championships – almost certainly depriving Australia the crown. The
word is, she stayed off the team in anticipation of possibly shifting National
allegiance to New Zealand… (and who would play #1, Leilani or Carol?).

North America’s not clean either — though Jonathon Power and Graham Ryding
will probably always loyally play for Canada, why did Michael Blumberg play
for the USA team in the World Juniors last year while Jennifer Blumberg played
for Canada in the Pan Am Games a few weeks later?

This revolving country activity is bad for the sport of squash – it diminishes
the stature of the international team competitions, which have been at the
pinnacle of the sport’s competition.

Before blaming the players involved, though,
how about the National Squash associations? Why do top players in the sport
such as Nicol, Owens, and Heath feel abandoned by their national associations?

The players are exhibiting the frustrations
of their isolation and lack of support. But the consequence isn’t constructive
for the sport. Both the players and the associations must be leaders in bringing
sense to their National identities and National programs.