Eight-time World Squash Champion and National Goodwill Ambassador of UNDP Malaysia, Datuk Nicol David during the World Capital Markets Symposium Kuala Lumpur at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Pix by Salhani Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR: As Nicol David prepares for eventual retirement from competitive squash, the eight-time world champion has laid the foundation for giving back to the sport that has made her a household name.

One of Nicol's main passions besides playing the racquet sport is the development of youth, not just in squash, but life in general.

To that end, Nicol has taken tentative steps to get a foundation in her name up and running to benefit the next generation.

"I'm working together with (financial advisers) PriceWaterhouseCoopers to formulate the structure for the Nicol David Foundation which would take two years to develop before it takes off," said Nicol, after appearing on a panel on youth empowerment at the World Capital Markets Symposium in Kuala Lumpur today.

It's still very early stages and I'm starting it off this year. The purpose is to bring sports to kids who don't have access to facilities and increasing the participation of girls in sports.

"Using sport can empower youth to become influential in the community. I want to use the foundation to reach areas where they may not have access.

"Something as simple as having a ball to hit against a wall can show how they can be active and have a healthy lifestyle at the same time as building character."

Before anyone begins thinking that Nicol is about to call time on her playing career, the former World No 1 assured her fans that there are a few more years left in the tank to continue playing at the sport's highest level.

"This is setting up things for after and you can't deny the fact that you have to retire at some stage," said Nicol, now ranked seventh in the world.

"I need to prepare myself for what is coming but I still want to make the most of the few years I have left (playing squash) and go full speed.

"I have to be realistic and things like the foundation have to be done now and when the time comes, I will push for the development of the sport."

Nicol draws inspiration for her foundation from StreetsSquash, an urban youth enrichment programme which helps children realise their academic, athletic and personal potential in Harlem, New York as well as the foundations of tennis greats Roger Federer and Billie Jean King.

"Seeing what StreetsSquash have done, I feel it can be successful here as well," said Nicol, who was in New York last month for the Tournament of Champions.

"There are a lot of different sources that make you feel you can be part of something bigger and what better way to do it than to give back to Malaysia."

Nicol, who is preparing to defend her singles gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April, took time off from her training to share her experience of two decades in squash today.

"I thought this is a great opportunity to share my experience on youth and sport and how sport can really come forth and be used as a tool and instill the right values into youth," said Nicol.

"These include fundamental elements like team work, being focused and disciplined and leadership values. If I can add my voice and be a role model to the next generation, I'd like to do that as much as possible."

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