At 19 years old, Jamaican Tahjia Lumley is the youngest of the three athletes who have travelled from his country to Guyana to attain England Squash Coaching certification from Guyana’s National Squash Coach Carl Ince.Certified: (From L-R) Sarah Lewis, Samuel Ince-Carvalhal, Coach Carl Ince, Nicolette Fernandes and Tahjia Lumley after the final gradingHaving attained his Levels 1 & 2 Award (certification) from Ince, Lumley is now one of many from the Caribbean and the USA to have come to Guyana to become certified at that level.Here last year for his final Junior CASA examination, Tahjia was conferred with the honour of being declared the Junior CASA Sportsman and Leadership Award winner.Following that 2017 tournament, Tahjia spent a week on Coach Ince’s farm receiving training; after his coach, Steve Smith, who himself had completed the course here in Guyana in 2013, and mentor Karen Anderson, arranged for the youngster to work with the Level 4 Elite Coach.Tahjia expresses an enormous amount of gratitude for the support he has received from both his coach and mentor throughout his 8 years in the sport.Sitting at the Georgetown Club courts on Sunday after finishing his final practical exam, his enthusiasm was barely contained as he recollected meeting the one he refers to as “The Great Coach Ince” for the first time.At 12 years old, Tahjia said, he was struck by the calm and relaxed figure whose reputation was legendary in the Caribbean, as his team had so many successes. He even remembers the exchange they had that led him to deduce how much Coach looked out for his students. Eight years on, Tahjia enthuses, “To be in Coach’s own backyard training, learning from a man I have looked up to for so long, was spectacular”.The icing on the cake for Tahjia was when he discovered he would be working alongside another Guyanese Squash great, Nicolette Fernandes. “That”, he said, “was a dream come true!”Tahjia Lumley, Sarah Lewis, Samuel Ince-Carvalhal, and Nicolette Fernandes gained a great deal from each other during the gruelling week of the course. The interaction with Coach and his fellow candidates made what was mentally and physically intensive one of the best experiences Tahjia has ever had. “The course was so thorough, professionally conducted, and well run…. so amazing; and we were so constructive with each other that even though it wasn’t easy — it was mentally draining — I loved every single moment of it,” Tahjia Lumley disclosed.The course teaches and tests individual and group coaching techniques and programmes, child protection, coaches’ code of conduct, safety, and an array of other relevant material.As Tahjia transitions into another chapter of his Squash career, he reflects on the pivotal moment that brought him to be standing outside the courts in Jamaica, where he asked if he could play. He explained, “In Jamaica, Squash was more an uptown sport, and I am from the inner city, so it was not a sport I might have ordinarily been exposed to or have the opportunity to play. I asked and waited. It could have been a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.”However, he asked and got a positive response. Quickly moving from playing during some lunch times to dedicating early mornings, his talent and dedication were soon noticed, and his first coach, Jeremy Parkinson, gave him a solid foundation before he moved to the national squad, where hitting hard became hitting to target, and physical training was added to his regime.Looking back, he smiles at the cost his dedication had on others. “Rain or shine, I would be there early in the morning at UTECH, disturbing the lifeguard, Jayan Thomas, to get access to the key and equipment, so I could get on court,” he reflected.Tahj believes his life would have been very different without Squash. He thoughtfully stated, “The day I got that ‘Yes’ changed my life”.Going through the junior programme, representing his country, enjoying successes in tournaments and the opportunities they afforded helped him to become calm and focused. He fully recognises how powerful sport and supportive people can be, and has named many who have influenced the path he has taken, including fellow countryman Chris Binnie.Allowing a tinge of pride, he said: “Now I have the skills to be part of that programme, I can change people’s lives”. Eager to have a positive impact on the next generation of young people, his newly acquired knowledge and certification will enhance the remarkable skills and characteristics he already possesses, which make him a natural in the field of coaching.As a parting note, Tahjia reiterated how amazing the course was, and emotionally finished with, “Coach Ince is motivational and inspirational… I am filled with happiness and joy to have been a part of this course with this group”.