ALEXANDRIA 2017       

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FIRST VISIT TO SMOUHA, AND A SUCCESSFUL ONE...

Strangely enough, I had never had the chance to come in this huge and beautiful club that is Smouha Club in Alexandria. All my visits (numerous) to Alex had been in Sporting and I was looking forward to have the chance to visit the famous Smouha Club, home to the Shorbagy Brothers and so many more.

There are several elements that make a coverage a pleasure. And the organiser, Mr Ibrahim Metwally, who invited me, made sure all those elements were present!

He made sure I was surrounded by a lovely team of young people that "feed" me with translated draws with as much info as they can give me, and feed me as well with numerous teas, drinks and lovely food! Thanks to Mohamed, Mohamed and Faten, we have managed to have a nice and documented coverage, coudln't have done anything without you guys!

A huge thank you to the Tournament Director, Ibrahim Mahdy, who was kind enough to drive me to the club on Sunday morning, and a "grand merci" to my new friend, Mr Walid Ahmed Samir, who like me, loves food just a tiny bit too much!! ONLY KIDDING.....

As ever in Egypt, the internet can be a bit capricious, and didn't help my blood pressure to run smoothly. I have to say I got a bit worried when plan B failed on Monday, but Plan C saved the day... So my computer didn't learn to fly - it was close a few times - and I still have friends in the club, Elhamdoulillah, it was a good day!

I was spoiled for delicious food, on my arrival on Saturday by Fares Dessouky who took me to the Greek Club, then on the Sunday night, Mr and Mrs Metwally regaled me with sumptuous Fish in Balbaa Downtown - I went there a few years ago with the El Torky family and was dreaming to go back. And to finish, Monday night, a quick visit - a lot of work to do - with Mrs Metwally to a Koshari place!

This is not the event I die by starvation from...


MEETING WITH MISTER BIG!

It would take your whole day to go around the club to be honest, but Mr Metwally showed me a few places and we nicely walked around the grounds. I took my life into my hands to take that swimming pool picture - as it was taken from the diving thingy - however you call it in English - and I suffer from vertigo! That was fun...

By the way, I counted 3 different pools - one "small" on the right side of the building, then the main one, with the diving pool, and the inside pool as well. I tell you, I wish I would live around here, I would spend my days in there!

We also created chaos when we asked for the Youth Centre to be opened to take a panoramic view of the whole of the place. Kindly, the security got the clearance and we went up and enjoyed the breathtaking view. It is something I have to say...

Then, I was lucky enough to meet with Mr Mohamed Farag Amer, the President of the Smouha Club. And as his time is extremely precious - there are 38 sports here, including Polo and Jumping! So needless to say Mr Big has a few dozen people waiting for meeting with him every minute of the day!

Mr Amer has been president of the club for "many, many years" as he smiled.  He arrived here in 1997 for 48 days, appointed by the Prime Minister to be the President of the club, then left to come back elected in February 1998. Previous to that, Mr Amer was the President of the Horse Owner's Club and the President of Jokey Club, to which he introduced a lot of different sports.

The club is as I told you already the second biggest club in the country, and an extremely successful one. They are at the moment undergoing a lot of refurbishment, and there are a lot of scaffoldings and paint smell everywhere, proof that the club is flourishing....

But the biggest of them all in terms of refurbishment, I just heard that Smouha is about to build a complex with 29 courts!!!!!

"We boast 38 sports here, but squash is one of the most sought for sports" says proudly Mr Amer. "Our members play squash more and more. As you know, we have great squash champions that we trained since they were very young, at the moment our most famous are of course Mohamed and Marwan Elshorbagy, Salma Hany, Mariam Metwally and the World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby.

"The facilities we have at the moment, 9 courts, are just not enough to meet with the demands of our members. So we have found the financing for a very new compound for our Squash Club, with 28 traditional courts and one centre glass court. We will start the building very soon, in two parts, first 16 courts plus the central court with a 3,000 spectators capacity, and once that portion is built, we will start with the remaining courts.

"With those courts come other facilities of course like gym, spa, physio rooms, etc. The whole new complex will be built on 10,000 squash meters and should take a year for the first part of the project, and another 12 months to finish the complex."

"This construction is not really aimed at competition", he ads. It's the demand of our members pushed us to conceive and build that new complex. But of course, we will then be able to organise local, national and international competitions as well."

So there you have it.  I may come here more and more in the near future. And when I ask Mr Amer what is the secret of such a successful enterprise that is Smouha, he smiles:

"The secret is all about selecting the right people to work in dedicated teams with the same excellence principles, the same goals, the same purpose, the same ideas. We fix targets, and all of us are trying to do our best to reach those targets.

"Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we do not achieve enough, so we try again, with other people, or with the reassessing of our goals. And we keep on pushing our limits further and further, there is no end to our search of excellency."

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