What is it like to be involved in the World Police & Fire Games as a sports coordinator? In this newsletter, we are singling out a sports coordinator and his sport: squash. The last time squash was organized was at Belfast 2013, and at Rotterdam 2022 the sport is making a comeback. Braihim Patje (40) is the squash sports coordinator and also a senior Tactical Investigation officer with the Police.
You’ve taken part in the WPFG several times. How did you hear about the Games and which Games did you participate in?
“One of my colleagues had participated twice in the World Police & Fire Games. He told me that it was a really wonderful event to take part in. Afterwards I participated in the squash competition in New York City 2011 and Belfast 2013, where I even received the gold medal. Unfortunately, squash was not a part of the editions after that, or I would definitely have participated more often. Luckily, squash will be back in 2022!"
How did you experience taking part in the WPFG yourself?
“It’s a unique, unforgettable experience! As an amateur athlete, how often can you stand in the shoes of a top athlete?! What also makes it special is that you come in contact with colleagues from all over the world and even build up friendships. That’s when you notice that we all speak the same language, the humor is the same and just a few words will do because we understand each other.”
Now the WPFG are being held in your own country – why did you sign up to be a sports coordinator?
“In Belfast, in particular, I got closer to the WPFG Rotterdam organization. For example, I was allowed to be present in Belfast at the ‘bid’ for Rotterdam 2019, which then went to Chengdu. Two years later, Rotterdam was awarded the Games after all. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to do something to facilitate the Rotterdam Games and preferably in my own sport, squash. In addition to my regular job, I’ve also been a sports coordinator at the North Netherlands Police Force for almost 10 years and organizing sports events gives me an amazing amount of energy!”
“After being a really fanatic soccer and handball player, a friend of mine took me to the squash court. By then I had had 5 knee surgeries and I noticed that my knee didn’t react at all to over an hour of squash, although I was exhausted and had 3 days of muscular pain. So that was very positive! I enjoyed it so much that within six months I started a competition team with a group of friends. In the meantime, besides working for the police, I have founded my own squash company, Squamata. With my company, I give squash training courses and clinics, organize tournaments and sell everything related to squash. Squash has become a real passion for me.”
What makes squash so enjoyable and challenging?
“Squash has so much going for it. It’s a fast, technical, tactical and mental sport. A game of squash clears my head completely. Physically, it also stretches the boundaries. What’s more, you burn an average of 1000 kcal an hour playing squash. There’s a good reason it’s been the healthiest sport in the world for years!”