By Syed Khalid Mahmood
The new leadership of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) has done a fabulous job by releasing the annual calendar of events on the eve of a new year.
An Executive Committee meeting of the PBSA was held at the Conference Room of the Karachi Club on December 31 in which among other things the schedule for the year 2009 was discussed and finalized. Most importantly it was released to the media within an hour.
The PBSA has planned to hold all the four national ranking tournaments in 2009 besides sending the outfits to the Asian Snooker Championship and the World Snooker Championship.
The PBSA office-bearers are confident that they would succeed in implementing their plans despite the crunch situation.
They could not organize the Latif Masters in the fall of 2008 and it was for the first time in 21 years that the annual event could not be held.
Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, sounded positive and remarked unlike last year, it would be ensured that all the ranking tournaments are held in accordance with the original schedule.
According to the cue sports calendar for 2009, approved by the PBSA Executive Committee, the 34th National Snooker Championship will be held at Karachi in February to be followed by the second ranking event in the very next month at a venue that is yet to be finalized.
The third national ranking tournament is scheduled for the month of June at Islamabad while the Latif Masters, the fourth and final national ranking tournament of the year, will be taking place in Karachi in September.
The first major event of the year, however, will be the second edition of the NJI National Junior (Under-21) Snooker Championship to be held at the Karachi Club later this month. The event was launched with great fanfare early last year.
Besides organising the national events, the PBSA will be facilitating the participation of the cueists in the World Under-21 Snooker Championship, Asian Snooker Championship, 6-Red International Snooker Tournament and the World Snooker Championship to be held in February, April, May and November respectively.
Meanwhile the federal government will provide financial assistance of Rs 2.5 million to the PBSA in their pursuit for further development of cue sports in the country.
Federal Minister of Sports, Pir Aftab Shah Jilani, who met with the office-bearers of the PBSA at the Karachi Club on December 31, made the announcement while talking to the media corps.
“The Federal Sports Ministry would be arranging a grant of Rs 2.5 million for the PBSA to help them meet their estimated expenses of Rs 5 million for the year 2009. The first installment of the grant would be released to them shortly in order to let them prepare for the National Snooker Championship to be held in February,” Pir Aftab Shah said.
“The PBSA officials informed me that their total expenditure for the year 2009 would be Rupees 5 million that would cover the costs of four national ranking tournaments as well as facilitating the participation of Pakistan’s cueists in the Asian Snooker Championship as well as the World Snooker Championship,” he revealed.
“Half of the amount they plan to raise through sponsorship while they have sought financial assistance of the balance amount from the government. Our Ministry has accepted their request of arranging for the funds of Rs 2.5 million,” Pir Aftab Shah, himself a former first-class cricketer, added.
The assurance from the Federal Sports Minister has not only gladdened the hearts of the PBSA but is also great news for the snooker lovers all over the country. The Pakistan cue sports authorities thoroughly deserve the assistance from the government.