June 11, 2010

Pakistan may not be able to hire foreign snooker coach immediately


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The plans of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Federation (PBSA) to acquire the services of a foreign coach could be in jeopardy if the allocation for sports in the federal budget for the financial year 2010-11 was not revised.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, has not minced words in describing the proposed cut in the budget as catastrophic for sports in the country.

“Obviously each and every federation affiliated to the Ministry of Sports will be affected and ours would be no exception. The curtailment of funds will spell disaster for sports in Pakistan and many of the plans in pipeline would be severely affected,” he noted.

“We had successfully negotiated a deal with Sanjay Sawant of India to coach our cueists after the Federal Ministry of Sports had agreed in principle to take care of the expenses. But in the prevailing scenario the chances of the Ministry meeting the commitment are very remote indeed,” Alamgir Shaikh reckoned.

“We had approached Sawant only after been given this understanding by the Ministry. We held negotiations with him during the recently concluded Asian Snooker Championship in Thailand. Sawant had agreed to coach our cueists according to the worked out timetable,” the PBSA President, who was to ink the deal upon the release of funds for this specific purpose by the Federal Sports Ministry, added.

The PBSA had planned to hire Sawant for a three-month coaching programme and he was to train the Pakistani cueists in three phases for the major international events to be held later this year and early next year.

Sawant was due to visit Pakistan, had the deal been signed, for the first time before the Asian Games before returning to conduct coaching sessions for the preparation of World Snooker Championship to be held in December.

Sawant’s proposed coaching stint was also to train the local cueists for the 1st Asian 6-Red Championship, the 12th Asian U-21 Snooker Championship and the 27th Asian Snooker Championship to be held early next year.

The PBSA had started eyeing a foreign coach to improve the skills of the local cueists in general and the youngsters in particular who were unable to come up with consistent performance at the top level.

With Mohammad Yousuf, the only Pakistani to have been crowned at the international and continental level, past his prime and Saleh Mohammad, who did possess the material to bring home a major title, having moved to neighbouring Afghanistan the PBSA has been left with no option but to groom the young guns to become world beaters.

To make matters worse the experienced hands like Khurram Hussain Agha and Naveen Kumar Perwani, who dominated the domestic circuit for quite a while, could not maintain the consistency to earn the much needed title for the country.

Mohammad Sajjad has emerged as the new shining light but he too fell at the last hurdle in the recently held Asian Snooker Championship in Thailand. Then there are promising youngsters like Asjad Iqbal and Mohammad Asif who also have the potential to make their presence felt. The coaching stints, as planned by the PBSA, could fast track the rise of these talented young cueists.


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