Squash coach basking in success
The historic victory at the Pan Am Junior Squash Championships in Brazil has put Barbados at the centre of the squash world.
Excited coach Rhett Cumberbatch made the observation after the team returned home.
Last Saturday, the girls pulled off an outstanding performance to defeat Ecuador in the team final to win gold in the girls category and the overall title.
This was after top player Meagan Best’s silver in the individual segment, before Amanda Haywood joined her on court to take gold in the doubles competition.
Cumberbatch and his team, which included manager Josephine Haywood, the champion girls unit of Best, Amanda Haywood and Jada Smith-Padmore, and the male players, were greeted by president Allison Padmore-Smith, former president Monte Cumberbatch, as well as officials of the Ministry of Sport and National Sports Council.
“We were the first team ever from the Caribbean to get that overall championship. No one has ever done it at the Pan Am Games. I couldn’t even believe it. I was just humbled by it. People will now look up to Barbados’ squash worldwide and that is really good,” said Cumberbatch.
“Whenever they see the Barbados flag flying it’s not just the flag. Also when they see our team coming people will be scoping us out, checking us out cautiously. They would say, ‘they have good players there’. Before they would think when they see Barbados or the Caribbean it wasn’t anything.”
Cumberbatch said the team went into the competition ranked 12th of the 13 teams competing and even became nervous after the groups were announced.
However, he believed it was hard work which helped them to come out on top.
“We just went there to do our best. We were ranked 12 out of the 13 teams. They put us in a tough group and the girls were a little nervous. There were easier teams and all the hard teams were combined. I was like, ‘don’t worry girls, we trained, we worked hard and we will deal with everyone on the day’,” Cumberbatch said.
“We knocked out the big teams one by one and went straight to the finals, so that was a big one for them. I would never, ever think that we would have won the overall [in competition with] Colombia, Mexico, USA, Canada –big teams with big facilities. Once we work hard, anything can happen.”
The coach explained that the boys managed to knock out a major team in the doubles, making it to the top eight of the competition.
He thanked the Barbados Olympic Association and the Barbados Squash Association for funding and support in making the tour a possibility. (RG)