THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 09th OCTOBER 2013:
Cueists Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Sajjad have called for greater backing for snooker as the Pakistan team returned from Ireland after winning the IBSF World Team Championship.
Both players stressed that snooker deserves more respect than it receives from the government, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the corporate sector.
Snooker has been the most successful sport in Pakistan during the last 12 months with Asif bagging the IBSF World Championship as well as the Asian 6-Red event. In addition, Mohammad Majid was the runner-up at the Asian U21 Championship while Pakistan have now also become the IBSF World Team Champions.
Despite the achievements, they lamented that the snooker association continues to receive minimal financial support from the concerned authorities.
This is the second time running that the special grant was not issued by the PSB. Last year, they did not release the grant on time and the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) had to arrange finances for international events on their own.
“It’s time the government and public sector start giving the respect that snooker deserves,” Asif told The Express Tribune.
“Snooker’s record as compared to the other sports in Pakistan has been far better during the last 12 months and thus the grants and sponsorships should be given keeping our achievements in mind. I hope that the PSB and our government will realise that Pakistan could’ve lost two world titles because of the non-release of grants, had PBSA not done something on its own.”
‘We played well as a team’
Asif said their triumph in Ireland was a result of good team work as he heaped words of praise on his partner Sajjad.
“I used to respect Sajjad’s strategies while he used to listen to my advice, and this understanding helped us do well in tough situations,” he added. “Sajjad was outstanding during the event and our experience of playing in top international tournaments made our task easy. This title is for the nation and we’ll try to win more events in the future to make Pakistan proud. But our authorities should quickly realise that if they don’t support snooker, the game will head towards a decline.”
Sajjad reveals driving force behind title success
Sajjad revealed that it was his hunger to earn a wild card for the IBSF Individual World Championship which prompted him to play out of his skin.
“I only had one thing on my mind when we departed for the event and that was to perform well and get the wild card,” said Sajjad. “I used to ask PBSA President Alamgir Sheikh and Secretary Munawwar Sheikh how I could achieve the feat.
“They told me that I should at least play in one of the finals or win the championship to get the wild card. When I got knocked out from the 6-Red event, I knew the only way to make my dream possible was to help Pakistan do well in the IBSF team event, and thus we went on to become champions.”