A pretty busy time - already…

As a few of you know already, I have been spending a little time in Cairo for the past two years, and so I was already settled in my flatshare in Zamalek for a few days when I made my way to the tournament hotel Westin – about more than an hour drive.

It was not that simple an affair as my driver – normally extremely reliable – never showed up, having had had a car crash minutes before my pickup! Improvisation is not exactly my forte, so I eventually arrived in the hotel at nearly midnight.

Westin Resort

The Westin Hotel is new, it opened in September 2016, and it has got a “Gouna feel” to it I find. I mean, you don't feel you are in Cairo, it's a bit like being on holidays in Sharm or Gouna, it’s a lovely resort, with heated pools, spa, and a stunning golf course – the players who appreciated golf mentioned how impressed they were with it!

It just happened that by a complete mystery, I was given a room that shouldn’t have been opened to guests. There were a few things not that pleasant in it and I didn’t exactly spend a restful night!

But this morning, as soon as the General Manager Eben Nel heard that I was not exactly impressed so far for the facility offered to me, the whole hotel staff just couldn’t do enough! Within minutes – and I mean minutes – I was proposed 6 different rooms by the Director of Rooms division Wassim Wasfi, I chose the one with no vis-à-vis, giving on the golf course, very bright, peaceful and spacious.

I even got a lovely little gift from the General Manager – bless him and his wonderful staff – exquisite massage oil, soap and bath salt. Tis a tough life but…

After a sumptuous breakfast that seemed to confuse Pistol Pilley who commented “so many choices, where to start, Fram, where to start” – seriously the breakfast is great and the restaurant is superb, directly giving onto the swimming pools, we – Cubs and myself – made our way to the Black Ball venue.

Blackball Sport Club

As ever, when Ashraf Hanafi organises an event, he has got the Egyptian Flair and Passion and the German efficiency – he spent years in that country before coming back to Egypt. I had met him in October 2013 - merci Ramy Ashour - when nobody wanted to come to Egypt right after the ousting of Morsi in June.

During my last visit here in Black Ball six weeks ago, I did a little interview of him, where you might learn a few things about this amazing character who basically coached everybody, built everything and has organised quite a lot too!

Needless to say that the event is running smoothly, from pick up to rooms for the players, the installation for SquashTV, the shuttles, it’s all going perfectly. With the complete and amazing support of Mohamed Raef the General Manager of Black Ball, and seconded by a strong team Amr Khalifa, former World Junior Champ now working for Black Ball, the lovely Aya Youssef, and also Hussein and Nourhanne, Ashraf is going to be able to offer the World of Squash with I feel a memorable event…

“I hope that when you finish your careers” he said in the opening ceremony “you will have good memories of the events you played in, and I hope that Black Ball Open will be one of them”. Inshallah, Amen to that!

Of course, I knew Black Ball well for having covered several local tournaments here, but for most of the players/officials, it was their first visit, and the general feeling is that it’s an amazing venue.

And it is.

After looking around, checking where we were going to be working from – Ahmed the IT manager got Steve and I a special router, and the Media room is spacious and airy, on the ground floor where the glasscourt is situated, perfect for my bad knees!

View from my room by night

Welcome BlackBall Style


BlackBall CEO
Ahmad ElAbd

Omneya Retires

The Opening Dinner

After getting a local SIM card for Cubs, then eating a bite in the Concorde Plaza, a great mall with literally dozens of restaurants and shops round the corner from the Club, back to the hotel with the shuttle bang on time, and then the Party at 6pm, which as ever in Egypt, didn’t start at 6 at all.

We were only too happy to have two ministers with us, the Minister of Tourism her Excellency Rania Al-Mashat and also the new Youth and Sports Minister, His Excellency Aschraf Sobhy, who I had seen once, at 5am at the Cairo airport as we welcomed the World Team Champions Raneem El Welily and her team mates!

One thing is sure, the Minister is a hard worker, dedicated and with a great sense of humour and a good memory – as he remembered me… We are very grateful he took the time to talk to us tonight!

The tournament saluted the presence of past champions, Karim Darwish, now Director of Sports of Wadi Degla, Karim Elmestekawy, now member of the Egyptian Federation, and the newly retired Legend Omneya Abdel Kawy, recognising their contribution of the present success of Egyptian Squash on the world stage.

Tomorrow, a long day in front of us, but this is what we love doing: making sure we absorb the emotions, the sweat, the passion, the eruptions and accessorily the squash, and transcribe it for you on our page.

In love with Egypt, as always.