Richie making racquet in the tough world of professional squash
PUBLISHED: 09:30 30 June 2017
Dave Evans talks squash with rising Plaistow star Richie Fallows as he reveals his problems with funding, his battle to reach the top in his sport and asks why squash is not in the Olympics
For many people, when they think of squash, they think of Jahangir and Jansher Khan and those even older, like myself, the legendary Jonah Barrington.
But these days the game is a very different, faster, more exciting and more widespread sport and one of our own is making his way towards the top of the game.
Richie Fallows, who was 22 last week, is a European junior champion at both individual and team level, he also collected a superb World bronze medal in his youth and now since turning pro, he has worked his way up to number 58 in the world.
But there is a problem for Plaistow-born and bred Fallows, who went to Lister School and learned his sport at the Connaught Club in Chingford.
“All the young English players were funded by the England Squash Association via the National Lottery and we were given an allowance and put into two houses up in Manchester,” explained Richie, who won the Belfast Open and the Toulouse Open since become a pro, the youngest to win such a tournament.
“But the association have lost 30 per cent of their funding, there have been redundancies among staff and coaches and we have lost those houses and I have had to return to Plaistow.
“It means that we have to be very careful with what we spend and it has certainly affected me as a player. I am training full time at the moment, but I need to find a sponsor to help me with things or it becomes very difficult.”
Training for such a sport is certainly tough. Richie trains twice a day every single day, including running or biking, weight sessions and playing of course, with one added extra.
“I also do a bit of yoga,” said Richie. “It helps me with my flexibility and that is important in squash.
“I have always said it has to be one of the hardest sports there is and a lot of people don’t understand the intricacies and subtlety of the sport because it is so fast.”
Richie had a choice between football and squash when he was younger, but with a mum and dad who played squash and then his call-up to the England under-15 squad when he was just 13, it was an obvious choice to make.
And since turning pro it has been a tough, but rewarding journey for the youngster who grew up in Tweedmouth Road, Newham with mum and dad John and Sharon.
“I think my game as a junior suited the professional game more than others so I adapted pretty quickly,” he said. “I am 58 in the world, which I am happy with at my age, but if I can improve 10 places every year and get into the top 20 that would be great.”
Richie’s ambition is to get to the top and maybe compete at the Commonwealth Games in the future, but at the moment there is one thing that is denied to him and he doesn’t understand why.
“Squash is not in the Olympics,” he said. “Nobody understand why as there are so many countries that play, it has been played in Dubai, at Grand Central Station in New York and at the pyramids in Giza.
“When you think of some of the sports that are in the Olympics, which are very strange, you have to wonder why squash is not given a chance.”
At the moment the sport and Richie will have to bide their time and he is determined to go as far as he can.
“All I can do is the very best I can. I think I could be the best and I will give everything on and off the court to try and achieve that,” he said.
Richie reached the semi-finals of the Kent Open earlier in the month, losing to number one seed and title winner Joel Makin along the way, but with a bit of help and a lot of hard work, he is certainly on the way up.
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