Pakistani cueists put up a stupendous show at the IBSF World 6-Red Snooker Championship 2017, winning both the gold and silver medals at the team event, and the bronze medal in the individual championship. The 36-team event, held in Hurghada, Egypt, saw Pakistan fielding two teams, with both the national outfits winning their respective semi-finals to reach the final of the World Team Snooker Championship, held on August 10. This was the first time in the history of the event that two teams from the same country had reached the tournament’s final.
In a pulsating final match, Pakistan-2, consisting of former IBSF world champion Muhammad Asif and Babar Masih, defeated Pakistani-1’s Muhammad Sajjad and Asjad Iqbal, by a close margin of 5-4. Masih also had the added distinction of winning the bronze medal in the individual championship.
In the semi-finals, Pakistan-1 had overcome Wales, while Pakistan-2 outshone Ireland to reach the championship decider. According to The Express Tribune, Masih felt that the event had provided tough competition for Pakistani cueists.
“It wasn’t easy with 36 teams competing against us in the tournament,” said the IBSF World Team Snooker Championship 2017 winner. “Hong Kong were very difficult to beat in the team event, and of course Sajjad and Asjad gave their best in the final. It was very heartening to share the podium with Sajjad and Asjad. The feeling was out of this world.”
Meanwhile, Sajjad also expressed his delight at Pakistan’s fine showing at the IBSF World Team Snooker Championship 2017.
“Just the fact that the best players in the IBSF circuit are from Pakistan is exhilarating,” he said. “In the 6-Reds we are the most dominant force and by the end of the match we had nothing but smiles on our faces.”
Despite the consistently good performances of Pakistani cueists internationally, and specifically at this year’s IBSF World Team Snooker Championship, the sport remains much ignored at the governmental level, a fact lamented by Asif.
“When the cricket team won the Champions Trophy … everyone announced rewards for them, but nothing of that sort has been done for us, which is disappointing,” the IBSF World Team Snooker Championship 2017 winner told Daily Times. “It is disappointing, yet we are committed to bring more laurels for the country.”
The level of government, public and media apathy towards snooker is all the more puzzling and disheartening for the players and fans alike given that it is one of the few sports where the country wins international accolades regularly. Besides winning the IBSF World Team Snooker Championship, Pakistani cueists have also won the World Under-18 and Asian 6-Reds titles this year. The players’ disappointment with the indifferent attitude of the authorities needs to be addressed. Increased government attention towards the sport will only help spur Pakistan snooker to greater heights.