There's a joke going around in the local squash community.

“A woman asks her husband, 'If the world were to end in 10 minutes, what would you do?' The man replied, 'I would sleep with you in two minutes,'” Robert “Bob” Bachmann, president of the Philippine Squash Academy (PSA), said in an interview with Daily Tribune.

“Then the woman said, 'What would you like to do for the next eight minutes?' Without batting an eyelid, the man replied, 'I'm going to play squash.'”

To some the joke may sound funny.

But for someone like Bachmann, who has dedicated most of his time, energy and resources to Philippine sports, there is a grain of truth in this popular anecdote.

The love of Filipino sports is in the blood of 59-year-old Bachmann.

He is the son of one of the greatest Filipino basketball players, Kurt Bachmann, while his younger brother Richard is the country's highest government sports official as chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

Bachmann admitted that coming from a sports-loving family made it easier for him to lead one of the country's most productive and disciplined sports associations – the PSA. “My love of sport makes it easier for me to balance my responsibilities with squash, work and family. My life revolves around squash: eat, sleep, squash, repeat,” Bachmann said.

“My fascination with squash developed from my general love of racket sports. I have played many different sports, but squash has been the most enjoyable and rewarding for me.”

“My first contact with racket games was pelota, which I played at the Club Filipino in San Juan.”

Better Bachmann

But squash was not his first love.

As the son of a basketball legend, Bachmann admitted that he learned to play basketball from a very young age until he earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a concentration in business administration from De La Salle University in 1987.

Unlike his younger brother, he did not play for the Green Archers. However, he believes he is a better player than him.

“Despite my interest in sports, I was not part of the Green Archers varsity team. The size of my hands limited my ability to play basketball effectively,” Bachmann said, comparing himself to his younger brother, who played for the Green Archers before being selected eighth in the first round of the 1993 Philippine Basketball Association Rookie Draft.

The younger Bachmann eventually became coach and top manager of the Alaska franchise before being named PSC boss in December 2022.

Nevertheless, the older Bachmann is convinced that he is the “better Bachmann”.

“I think I was a better player and shooter than my brother,” he joked.

No conflict of interest

Bachmann has been President of the PSA since 2015 and is currently President of the South East Asian Squash Federation and a committee member of the Asian Squash Federation.

His love of squash is matched by his passion for good leadership and fairness in running a National Sports Association (NSA).

“When athletes and coaches asked me for help, I felt compelled to act, but I did not blindly jump into it,” said Bachmann, who also held various positions on the Philippine Olympic Committee under the leadership of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco.

“I examined the matter carefully before intervening. It was clear at the time that positive change was needed.”

He stressed, however, that he does not abuse his influence to seek financial support for the PSC. In fact, he submits his requests to the office of Sports Commissioner Olivia “Bong” Coo to ensure there is a balance between a private body like the PSA and the government's funding arm for sports.

“With regard to the NSA, I do not work directly with Chairman Bachmann at the PSC. My Secretary General, Clem Poblete, and my Secretariat Assistant, Aysah Dalida, handle communication with the PSC,” Bachmann said.

“When necessary, I liaise with Commissioner Bong Coo on squash matters. Although I have more contact with Chairman Bachmann than other sports officials because he is my brother, I try to avoid any potential conflict of interest.”

Preparing for the Olympics

Bachmann said he is developing a long-term plan for his association.

He stressed that the national squash team, collectively known as Kayod Pilipinas, is making good progress in its preparations for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

At the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019, Kayod Pilipinas won one gold, two silver and two bronze medals, finishing second behind top team Malaysia, which took home four gold, one silver and one bronze medals.

In preparation for the games in LA, Bachmann secured the services of former world number five Wee Wern Low from Malaysia as head coach.

They are also hosting the SEA Cup Squash Championships running until June 9 at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex to give their players a chance to earn ranking points for the Professional Squash Association.

“We are definitely increasing our players' ranking points. Like the Southeast Asian Cup, this cup is sanctioned by the PSA World Tour. And so we earn world ranking points in the individual competitions,” said Bachmann.

“And it's pretty big because it's considered a regional championship of the World Squash Federation. That's huge. You don't get anything like that at a normal championship.”

According to Bachmann, there is no magic formula for becoming a successful NSA chief.

All you need is a good heart.

“If you ensure and apply good governance within the NSA, government agencies like the Philippine Sports Commission will notice because you will not be on their radar,” Bachmann said.

“They will not be on the NSAs' list of unliquidated expenditures. If we have unliquidated expenditures, it may not be for a month or two. And that's just because we're waiting.”

“The Philippine Sports Commission will automatically notice.”

Bachmann admitted that he could understand the running joke about the old woman and her squash-crazy husband.

And even if he is not as legendary as his father or as well-known as his younger brother, the “other Bachmann” achieves great things in his own way. After all, the love of sport flows through his veins.