“WELCOME TO EL” – MO AND MA PLANNING TO TURN AJ BELL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP INTO FAMILY AFFAIR
The Egyptian siblings find themselves in the same half of the draw for the $325,000 tournament starting at the National Squash Centre on October 26 and concluding at the iconic Manchester Central on November 3.
However, they will need to noticeably upset the form book to secure a rare meeting on the PSA circuit. The duo’s only previous clash came almost 12 months ago when Mohamed, the older by two years, gained a three games to one victory in the Macau Open semi-finals.
Since then Mohamed, 22, reached the 2012 World Open final in Qatar, losing to compatriot, Ramy Ashour, while 20-year-old Marwan also suffered defeat to Ashour in the first round of the same tournament.
But while Ashour continues to live and train in his native Egypt, the Alexandria born Shorbagys have set up home in Bristol where they are familiar faces on the local squash scene. And Mohamed, a Manchester World Open quarter-finalist five years ago, wouldn’t have it any other way.
He first came to the UK, aged just 15, educated at Millfield School and coached by the legendary Jonah Barrington. Marwan, like his brother a double World Junior Champion and now world ranked 29, followed soon after.
“I didn’t know any of the players but I went to speak to Joey Barrington and asked him whether he would have a hit with me.
“He asked whether I could speak any English and told me about Millfield. He said they were prepared to offer a scholarship to a good player and asked whether I was interested.
“A week later I was at Millfield. People thought my mother and father were crazy to let me shift all my life in the space of just one week.
“To be honest I didn’t like the Boarding School so the year after I asked my mother and brother to come along. She came over and we rented a house just two minutes from Millfield which was perfect.”
Mohamed is now a student at the University of the West of England. After a year doing mechanical engineering he opted for business studies.
“There are times when you have to give up your racket and concentrate on your studies. But there are times, especially this year, when I have to concentrate on my squash.
“The teachers have been very understanding and the course work is put up on the internet so I can always follow it.
“For me, it works. If I just did squash the whole time I would just go mad. I like to have something different to do and my studies give me that balance.
“A lot of people like to turn professional straight after finishing A-Levels. But I don’t agree with that. You can do both if you want to.
“You play perhaps 12 tournaments a year; one a month. It still leaves you three weeks to study. If you study fully for one or two hours a day you are going to be a good student.
“I don’t even do an hour a day. I just concentrate before the exam periods and that’s good enough.”
There won’t be any time for books in Manchester as he aims to go one step further than last year’s World Championship.
With five Egyptians in the current PSA top 10 world rankings, six in the top 11, it doesn’t take a genius to suggest that a home winner isn’t guaranteed.
Two Egyptians – Ashour and Amr Shabana – have won six of the last 10 World Championship titles.
“Every country has had its time when it was on top of the game,” explained the world number six. The Australians had their time, the Pakistanis had their time and England had its time. Luckily, it’s our time right now,” smiled ‘Mighty Mo.’
“One day that will change and come back to another country. We have five players in top 10 right now. Hopefully, we will have 11 players in the top 10 one day,” he grinned.
“We have always had someone to look up to: Gamal Awad, Ahmed Barada, Shabana, Darwish, Ashour,” added Shorbagy. “The juniors always see top players training and are trying to be like them.
“I also remember something one of the Egyptian coaches told me about why we are so good at squash.
‘When we go on court,’ he said, ‘We don’t really have a system. We don’t have a plan. We just go and play like we feel like.
“That comes back to our culture which is messy or it certainly is right now.
“We don’t have a plan and that affects how we think sometimes. It doesn’t work with other sports in Egypt but it works for us. I don’t agree his theory completely.
“There are plenty of players who go in with a plan but perhaps he has a point!”