February 25, 2010

NJI offers to sponsor international snooker tournament in Pakistan


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The New Jubilee Insurance (NJI), having become the major sponsors of the national cue sports tournaments, have offered to take care of an international snooker event later this year.

Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, NJI, made the offer to the cash-starved Pakistan Billiards Snooker Association (PBSA), during the launching ceremony of the NJI 35th National Snooker Championship 2010 held at the Karachi Gymkhana Banquet Hall on February 25.

“It’s very heartening to note that NJI and snooker have become synonymous and we are encouraged to extend greater support to cue sports. We are prepared to sponsor an international snooker tournament in the second half of the current year whenever the PBSA is ready,” he offered.

The generous offer of Tahir Ahmed was certainly music to the ears of the officials of the PBSA and it was promptly acknowledged by their President, Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, who briefed the media about the Nationals 2010 to be staged here at the Karachi Gymkhana from March 2 to 8.

He announced the return of Mohammad Yousuf and Shehram Changezi to the national circuit. “Shehram, a former Pakistan number one, has qualified for the National Championship by winning the recently concluded Punjab Cup in Lahore while Yousuf, a former world champion, has made it through the Sindh Cup quota,” the PBSA President disclosed.

Alamgir Shaikh, however, could not come up with a convincing answer when asked if the decision of the Sindh Billiards & Snooker Association (SBSA), an affiliated unit of the PBSA, to allow direct entry to the veteran Yousuf without asking him to play in the Sindh Cup was in accordance with their constitution.

Yousuf, having won the National Championship on the highest number of occasions, was eliminated from the circuit following his inconsistent performance in successive ranking tournaments. He had to miss all the four national ranking tournaments last year after being denied wild card entry by the PBSA.

Alamgir Shaikh, having succeeded Ali Asghar Valika as the chief of the Association in 2008, regretted the recent decline in the governmental support to the game of snooker as he showed a comparison in which the lesser known games received much higher grants than the PBSA.

On the positive note the PBSA President disclosed that they have facilitated the participation of the finalists of the National Junior Championship, Muhammad Ahsan Javed of Punjab and Muhammad Ishtiaq of Sindh, in order to let compete with the top cueists of the country in the National Championship

“They will make it to the main draw automatically if there were two dropouts. They will still be included in the line-up if all the cueists do turn up in which case the number of participants in the National Championship will rise to 34,” Alamgir Shaikh explained.

Top four cueists from each of the four provinces, Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan, earned the right to appear in the National Championship besides the top 16 cueists in the last national ranking chart.


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