Squash: New coach has long-term plans

ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Arnold to lead squash team to SEA Games, wants more Singaporeans playing at top level

The Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA) has appointed Timothy Arnold as its new national coach, with plans afoot to further beef up its coaching staff to oversee the developmental squad.

The Malaysian, who joins the SSRA set-up shortly after the appointment of countryman Allan Soyza as technical director, will take charge of the senior team. Former national coach Ibrahim Gul resigned a month ago.

The 32-year-old has been tasked with leading his charges to the Aug 19-31 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, with a provision to extend his contract further after that.

He is no stranger to the local squash scene, having coached the national men's team for about a year in 2008 before running an academy here for several years.

Said Soyza: "I put Tim in charge of the seniors because of his knowledge and experience working at the higher end with Malaysian players over the years. He understands the requirements of working at the top level of the sport."

Arnold spent seven years playing professionally before that, reaching a career high of world No. 96.

GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT

I'm fussy with technique. If I see a player not striking the ball the right way and I think it needs to change, I really try to drive my point through.

TIMOTHY ARNOLD, who wants to raise local players' technical abilities.

JUST WHAT WE NEED

He's a hands-on person and a good communicator and that's what I need - the insight of what the player is like - so I can keep a macro view of things and pinpoint things that need work.

ALLAN SOYZA, on his fellow Malaysian and him complementing each other.

Added Soyza: "He's a hands-on person and a good communicator and that's what I need - the insight of what the player is like - so I can keep a macro view of things and pinpoint things that need work.

"He's brutally honest as well, and that's difficult to find."

And Arnold showed that by not mincing his words on what he termed as the "culture" of squash at the high performance level.

He is a proponent of players committing to training twice a day if they want to be competitive, and not competing in every event and tournament simply for the sake of it.

He said: "There is still a long way to go from where we are right now to where we want to get to, but the SEA Games are a good platform to see where we are.

"I hope to see more players competing on the world level and helping to make Singapore big in the squash scene again."

The SSRA currently has two other national coaches, Simon Yang and Choong Kam Hing. It is planning to bring in another coach to assist with the developmental squad.

While the aim is to at least retain the men's jumbo doubles title won by Marcus Phua and Vivian Rhamanan at the 2015 SEA Games held on home soil, Arnold has longer-term goals of lifting the state of the sport here.

Making reference to the heyday of the 1980s and 1990s when players like Zainal Abidin and Peter Hill made the Republic a regional force, he said: "My goals are not short-term.

"I'm not just coming in to help the players get through the SEA Games this year."

There is room for improvement in technical abilities among local players, added Arnold.

He said: "I'm fussy with technique. If I see a player not striking the ball the right way and I think it needs to change, I really try to drive my point through."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'New coach has long-term plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe