By Chris Buckland
Hot on the heels of a hard fought test with Zambia, a host of the continent’s top squash players will be on court this weekend to play for the Namibian open title at Wanderers, and fighting it out amongst them will be women’s former world number 29, Canadian Runa Reta.
Reta has moved to Windhoek and swapped her professional squash player’s lifestyle for a six-month placement at UNICEF. She will be taking up a post in the education and sports development department, where she will be initially working on a variety of Unicef and Namibian Premier League soccer initiatives helping to develop the women’s game in this country.
However, the 28 year old hasn’t left her passion for squash in Canada, as she is keen to play and become involved in the grass roots squash development programme established by the Namibian Squash Association. National coach Tyc Kakehongo is delighted to point out that Reta’s presence in Namibia is a major bonus. “She has made it clear that she wants to get involved in all aspects of the game. I’m sure Namibian squash will benefit greatly from her being here.”
Reta brings a wealth of experience to Namibian squash. Not only is she the current reigning Canadian Open champion, but she has also represented Canada at junior and senior World Championships, as well as at the Pan-American Games where she won a team gold, and at the Commonwealth Games where she finished ninth in the women’s event.
Having had a world ranking since 2001 and made the move to full-time professional and then back to part-time professional, Reta is keen to use her Bachelor’s in International Relations and recently completed Master’s in Political Science from McGill University to good effect during her time here in Namibia.
“I played as a pro for four years and travelled the world and really enjoyed it, but there comes a time when you start to not enjoy what you do and question it instead. There is more to life than squash and I wanted to do something more and I’m looking forward to the UNICEF challenge.”
In the light of the current Namibian number one women’s player, Isabelle Schnoor, recovering from a broken foot, Reta’s arrival in Windhoek is a timely fillip for the game in general at all levels and Namibian squash will definitely improve with her input.