“As an amateur athlete, how often can you stand in the shoes of a top athlete?!”

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!”

Why squash?
“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!”

What does the job of squash sports coordinator for the WPFG entail?
“During the preparations, I am mainly busy with organizational matters so that there is a solid basis for a great squash tournament. The tasks involved are very diverse and range from arranging sponsors and putting together the support team to ordering the medals. During the Games, I have final responsibility and make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Do you already have an idea what squash will look like during the WPFG?
“Absolutely! Squash will take place at the Victoria Sports Club in Rotterdam, together with hockey and tennis. There will be four age classes for both men and women that people can register for. For these three sports, we will use a variety of digital tools. For instance, people will be able to follow the results and scores live on a big screen and during the squash matches, tablets will be used to keep track of the scores. We want the athletes to be well received and to feel at ease. So among other things we will be providing quality food & drink and help with equipment problems, and there will be medical services present.”

What are you looking forward to most during the WPFG?
“Naturally, the reunion with several colleagues I met during previous Games, people I’ve kept in contact with all these years. I’m also very curious about the opening ceremony in the magnificent Feyenoord stadium: ‘De Kuip’.”

Here you can see the sports page for squash during the World Police & Fire Games 2022.