January 29, 2010

Donkey cart race thrills


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The donkey cart race is a spectacle of another kind. It has many of the ingredients of a thrilling sporting event and the participants as well as the spectators are into it by all means.

The Government of Sindh’s sports department recently organized yet another exciting donkey cart race in Karachi that was thoroughly enjoyed by the people residing in the old city area.

An added incentive for the participants was the handsome monetary rewards. All of them were assured of taking home Rs 5,000 each even if they didn’t finish among the top three. It was a wise move to keep all of them interested and ensure a decent turnout. Obviously the idea behind staging the event was to encourage people in healthy activities.

The Sindh Sports Minister, Dr Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, and the Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, had planned the event as part of their drive for the revival of the traditional sports of the province. Both these gentlemen are making great contribution in engaging the youth of the province in particular in the sports arena.
The donkey cart race organized by the provincial government on January 24 witness tremendous buzz and excitement as a total of 25 riders took part in the race that started from Railways Sports Ground located on I I Chundrigar Road and completed the cycle after passing through KPT Bridge, Sultanabad, PIDC and Shaheen Complex.

Abdul Hussain emerged as the winner of the race while Syed Asghar Ali Shah and Shakeel Ahmed finished second and third respectively.

Abdul Hussain, who clocked 11.35 minutes, received a purse of Rs 20,000, the runner-up Syed Asghar Ali Shah, who covered the distance in 11.45 minutes, was presented Rs 15,000 while Shakeel Ahmed, having finished third after doing it in 12.50 minutes, collected Rs 10,000.

The Director Sports, Sindh, Mohammad Hanif Mirchiwala, was the chief guest in the colourful presentation ceremony held at the Railways Sports Ground in which cash prizes of Rs 170,000 were disbursed.

It may be recalled that donkey cart racing was acclaimed as the pride of the city during one of the cultural festivals organized last year. It was announced by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) to proactively support the sport being kept alive by the youth of Lyari.

A donkey cart race was organized as a part of the Hamara Karachi Festival 2009, which started from Gul Bai in Keamari Town and ended at the Jahangir Kothari Parade in Clifton. The participants had covered a distance of seven kilometers.

Pir Muhammad had won the race after reaching the finish line in just 13.2 minutes. He was followed by Saleem Japani and Asghar Badshah who finished second and third respectively among the 35 participants.

There are numerous donkey carts visible in the streets of Lyari town that serve a dual purpose. Besides being a mode of transportation it also provides them an avenue for recreation in the form of donkey cart races. The donkeys used for these races are usually younger and are believed to be much more expensive than the locally manufactured motorbikes. Lyari wears a festive look whenever donkey cart races are held there.

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Ahsan Javed crowned as national junior champion


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Sialkot’s highly promising teenager, Ahsan Javed, staged a magnificent comeback to defeat Mohammad Ishtiaq of Sindh in the final to win the NJI 8th National Junior (Under-21) Snooker Championship 2010 at the Karachi Club on January 28.

Ahsan, who was trailing 1-3 in the best of nine frame contest, fought back resolutely to win the match 5-3 with the scores of 20-67, 59-45, 36-60, 30-55, 70-26, 64-2, 54-47, 59-54.

The 19-year-old Ahsan gave a far more impressive account of himself under pressure while turning the tables on Ishtiaq, one of the upcoming youngsters of Karachi, in the battle for the national junior crown.

Ishtiaq, having looked quite confident in his earlier matches, got off to a flying start in the final too but he was unable to sustain his dominance when Ahsan got into his elements in the second half, notching breaks of 32, 39 and 29 in successive frames to seal the fate of the match. He had previously fired a break of 31 in the second frame. Ishtiaq’s highest break in the final was 30.

Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, New Jubilee Insurance (NJI), was the chief guest in the presentation ceremony soon after the conclusion of the final. Cash awards of Rs 120,000 were disbursed among the top performers of the six-day event.

Ahsan Javed collected a handsome purse of Rs 50,000 with the winner’s trophy while Mohammad Ishtiaq had to be content with a reward of Rs 25,000 with the runner-up trophy.

Mian Mohammad Shiraz and Qamar Zaman Khan, the losing semifinalists, received Rs 10,000 each while the quartet of Rizwan Hashmi, Asjad Iqbal, Yasir Rahman and Ayaz Khan, got Rs 5,000 each for being the losing quarter-finalists.

The tournament witnessed quite a few upsets, reflecting the popularity and growth of the game in the cities of Punjab. Asjad Iqbal and Hamza Akbar, the winner and the runner-up respectively of the last year’s tournament, were knocked out in stunning fashion before the semifinals.

Both Asjad and Hamza, having gained international exposure by representing the country in the World Under-21 Championship last year, were unable to make the cut in the presence of the new crop of talented cueists.

The cueists from Punjab dominated the tournament with five of them making it to the quarter-finals although the highest participation was from the host province of Sindh. The cueists from the NWFP and Balochistan could not make much of an impression this time round.

The emergence of cueists like Ahsan Javed, who had made his debut in the national junior circuit a couple of years ago, augurs well for the future of the sport. He showed remarkable qualities and the manner in which he handled in the pressure-cooker situation in the final spoke highly of his skills and temperament.

The performance of Mohammad Ishtiaq was commendable as well. He also has the potential to go places if he is provided the support he deserves.

Now the ball is in the court of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) having the responsibility of arranging the desired facilities and taking care of the immensely talented youngsters.

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