John Kuhn, the Free State’s top Under 19 Junior Squash player, recently won the South African Schools Closed Squash Championships held in Johannesburg from 18 – 21 March 2016. He is currently a grade 12 learner at St Andrew’s School, Bloemfontein. He secured a convincing 3 – 0 victory against Gauteng’s Wayne Sithole (Parktown Boys’ High) (11/5 11/6 12/10) in the semi-finals and then proceeded to win the final match by 3 games to 2 (11/8 11/4 1/11 11/13 11/7) against Gauteng’s No 1 ranked player, Makosonke Ntuli (King Edward VII School) in a match that lasted over 60 minutes. In 2015 John also won the SA Junior Open Championships in his grade 11 year.
His successes here and in other events during the past two months have ensured that he has been included in a squad of players that is due to form the SA Junior Mens’ Team to participate in the World Junior Team Championships to be held in Poland in August this year. John has consistently been included in the SA Junior Top Ten rankings since his Under 14 year. He has delivered exemplary service and brought much acclaim to the Free State Province through his achievements.
The hurdle that is currently faced is that the Squash Federation of South Africa is not able to finance the team to participate in the World Junior Team Championships for 2016. This pressure is further exacerbated by the fact that the full entry fees have to be paid to the World Squash Federation by mid April to guarantee the team’s entry and therefore this funding needs to be raised by 5 April 2016. Each player in the team needs to raise a minimum of R50 000 (this will cover only the costs of participation, travel, accommodation and visas.) It excludes all other costs such as pocket money, subsistence, clothing, etc. The Free State Squash Association is also unfortunately not in a position to finance these costs either and as a result the Association has no alternative but to appeal to the community to assist on behalf of this young player.
Young players, like John Kuhn, have been playing squash all their school careers with one ultimate goal in mind and that is to participate in World Championships. Imagine, after the years of financial strain on parents to get their children to this level and then to be told that there is no funding for the blue ribbon event, is heartbreaking!
The serious dilemma and plight of our own Free State Champion is that, given the current economic climate and the financial strain on Sporting Codes due to the absence of available funding, the SA Junior Team will not be able to participate in the Championships unless each of the 6 individuals in the team is able to raise the funds required to participate.
Free State Squash has had a strong representation of players in the World Junior teams in the past. Calvin Deutschmann, St Andrew’s coach, and also currently John Kuhn’s coach, was appointed the manager of the World Junior team in 2014. Other Free State players that have been included in the junior national teams have been Lawrence Kuhn, Paul Rodrigues, Ruan Olivier, Tertius Raubenheimer and Regardt Schonborn.
We are appealing to the community of Bloemfontein and the Free State to consider making donations to keep this dream alive for John Kuhn, so that he too may experience the honor of being awarded his Junior Protea Colours for his years of training, hard work and effort. For any further enquiries, please contact any of the following persons from the Free State Squash Association: Keith Deustchmann (083 310 3249), Ben Kotzé (082 853 1875) or Margo Morgan (FS Schools Squash 082 337 0478).