August 27, 2013

Asjad retains NBP trophy by toppling world champion in epic final


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Asjad Iqbal had done it before, having overpowered Mohammad Asif in the final of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Ranking Snooker Championship. But the victory at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi on August 27, 2013 tasted sweeter for he had now outwitted the reigning world champion.

Asif had his moments in the epic final but the lady luck was smiling on the young Asjad who won the thriller 8-7 with the frame scores of 66-10, 82-35, 66-65, 49-72, 0-123, 66-57, 58-82, 14-92, 60-68, 83-40, 50-63, 75-48, 36-57, 64-25, 67-40. 

Sponsors NBP could not have asked for a better outcome of the event. Both the finalists belonged to them. The final lasted almost six and half hours and the both the contestants were exhausted in the closing stages of the marathon battle. 

The NBP tournament continued to bring good fortune to the 21-year-old Asjad, who has now won the title three times in last four editions. The lad from Sargodha kept his cool until the end, not having shown any signs of nerves while coming to terms with the world champion. His body language remained positive throughout the final. 

The 31-year-old Asif, hailing from Faisalabad, had reasons to feel hard done by the rub of the green going the way of his opponent but he was sporting enough to praise him publicly for having withstood the pressure of a final. 

Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Commissioner Karachi, was the chief guest in the presentation ceremony, which was delayed by an hour due to the extended duration of the final. Iqbal Qasim, Divisional Head Sports & CSR, and Qamar Hussain, Divisional Head HR, of NBP were also present on the occasion alongwith Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Munawwar Hussain Shaikh and Abdul Wahid Qadir, the top officials of the Pakistan Billiards &  Snooker Association (PBSA). 

In his welcome speech, the PBSA President wholeheartedly acknowledged the support of the print as well as the electronic media in raising the status of snooker. He didn’t make a mention of digital media, however.

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August 26, 2013

Nadeem Omar’s jackpot for snooker world champion


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

World snooker champion, Mohammad Asif, received an unexpected jackpot when Nadeem Omar, a sports promoter and philanthropist, presented him a cheque of Rs two million in a ceremony organized in his honour by Omar Associates at the Karachi Gymkhana on August 26.

The hurriedly arranged function, which was planned less than 48 hours ago, brought broad smiles on the face of the Faisalabad-based Asif for whom it was the single biggest purse to be received after bringing home the world title last December. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), eulogized Nadeem Omar for his sporting act of honouring the snooker world champion in such a splendid manner. 

“Hats off to him for choosing to reward our world champion so gracefully. We have been made to run from pillar to post to procure the cash awards announced for Asif by the various other personalities but Nadeem Omar stands out not only for the amount of money but also for the admirable manner in which he has done so,” the PBSA President recognized. 

Alamgir Shaikh made a special mention of journalist Nabeel Hashmi for having played the pivotal role in making the award possible for the world champion. 

Nadeem Omar, who has been more famous and active in the cricketing circles, having served as the Vice President of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) besides managing the Omar Associates and the Omar Cricket Club, paid glowing tribute to Asif for earning glory for the country. 

“There was a time when Pakistan held four world titles simultaneously. But right now we only have one title which has been made possible by Asif. We should encourage our national heroes in order to let them perform even better at the international stage to earn more glories for the country,” he remarked. 

 “I became concerned to know about Asif’s plight in getting the rewards which were announced following his triumph in the World Snooker Championship. I also read in the newspapers of him being not able to pursue his professional goals due to financial constraints. This is our token contribution to the national cause,” Nadeem Omar stated. 

“I do hope that Asif will fulfill his dream of transforming into a professional from being an amateur. He has tremendous potential. He is young and energetic. I am confident that he will continue earning glories for himself and the country. Let’s continue extending him the desired support,” he added. 

Asif, in his brief speech, acknowledged the national spirit of Nadeem Omar and expressed the hope that others will derive inspiration from him for the sake of sports. He also thanked the PBSA for facilitating him. He reiterated his desire to enter the professional snooker circuit. 

“It’s my dream and I will fulfill it soon,” he declared. The luncheon ceremony, which began at 2.30 pm, was attended by the top officials of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) which included its Senior Vice President, Abdul Wahid Qadir, and Honorary Secretary, Munawwar Hussain Shaikh.

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August 10, 2013

The pioneer of cricket coaching in Pakistan is no more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The pioneer of cricket coaching in Pakistan, Ahmed Mustafa, breathed his last on August 10. He was 69. Although he had been laid low by various diseases over the years which severely affected his mobility for the last few years it was a freak accident a day earlier which became the cause of his death. 

According to the family members, Ahmed Mustafa, who had founded Cricket Coaching Centre, the first-ever cricket academy in Pakistan in 1987, was unusually hale and hearty on the morning on August 9 when he also telephoned a few close friends to extend Eid greetings. 

It was during this process, around 12 noon, when he fell suddenly while approaching the telephone set in the TV lounge. It could not be found whether he suffered a stroke or he lost his balance due to some other reason. His head hit the edges of a wooden chair and he collapsed instantly. He was rushed to the hospital in unconscious condition where the doctors carried out various tests including CT scan. 

The family members were informed about the serious nature of the head injury as he was placed in the intensive care unit of the Plastic Surgery Hospital on Shaheed-e-Millat where all his previous medical records were available. His condition deteriorated and he was put on ventilator at midnight. He didn’t respond to the numerous attempts made to revive his breath. At about 5 am he was pronounced dead. 

Upon hearing the sad news, quite a few friends, the majority of them being cricketers, rushed at the family residence of Ahmed Mustafa in PECHS at a short notice. They included Asif Ahmed, Mahmood-ul-Hasan, Nasim-ul-Ghani, Iqbal Umar, Brig Salahuddin, Mirza Masroor Ahmed, Khalid Rafiq, Jalaluddin, Salahuddin Ahmed, Faisal Iqbal, Mohammad Javed, Wajihuddin and Ali Hussain. He was laid to rest in the DHA Phase I graveyard after Asr prayers. 

Nasim-ul-Ghani, a former Test all-rounder, who has also headed the national selection committee besides holding other administrative posts in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) over the years, was among the last persons to have talked to Ahmed Mustafa with whom he had an association for more than five decades. 

“It’s shocking. I can’t believe it. He was talking in such a relaxed manner. We talked for quite sometime as we usually used to do. I never knew that it would be our final conversation,” the visibly upset Nasim-ul-Ghani remarked. 

Asif Ahmed, another former cricketer and probably the closest friend of Ahmed Mustafa, alongwith Mahmood-ul-Hasan, was also shell-shocked at what he described as sudden death caused by a freak accident. 

“Just one day before his death I had driven him to an automobile workshop at Tariq Road. He was very keen to have his car fixed before Eid. He was mighty pleased when the mechanic did the job to his satisfaction. Little did we know that he actually desired his family car to return to order in his lifetime which indeed was done,” Asif Ahmed narrated in choked voice.

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August 6, 2013

Irfan Mirza’s tribute to Munir Hussain


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Irfan Mirza, a veteran sports administrator, has paid glowing tribute to Munir Hussain, the famous Urdu commentator, who expired in Karachi on July 29. 

“He was blessed with quite a few outstanding qualities. I had the privilege of knowing him closely for four decades. Our first meeting had taken place in 1970 when I was working at UBL’s Nursery branch. We became friends in 1975 and we remained friends all along. In fact we were due to have another meal together soon after Eid but unfortunately it won’t be happening now,” Irfan Mirza, who headed the sports division of United Bank Limited (UBL) for a number of years since its inception, remarked in a choked voice. 

“Munir Bhai was basically a very kind person who was soft-hearted as well. He used to break into tears when he saw people in distress. His columns in Daily Jang by the name of ‘Yun Bhi Zindagi Guzarti Hai’ brought to light the miseries of ordinary folks. He was deeply concerned for the less privileged persons and he tried to help them in every possible manner,” he recalled. 

“Munir Bhai cared for his friends. He was always there to lend a helping hand, be it just an advice or some practical support. He was like an elder brother to me. He was just a call away whenever I needed him. He guided me at various critical stages. He was always willing to help which is quality not commonly found these days. I will miss him a lot,” he added. 

Irfan Mirza, one of the rare breed of gentlemen who believe in doing things gracefully rather than keeping others guessing, had immortalized himself by building the dream UBL Sports Complex in the heart of Karachi in 1993. Although he is no more with the bank, the sports complex, one of its kind, reminds of his awesome management capabilities that enabled him to accomplish the gigantic task against the heaviest of odds.

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August 5, 2013

Mohammad Adil Usman: From badminton champion to chancellor


By Syed Khalid Mahmood  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sports and games have been a very distinctive feature of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) right from the days of the Muslim Anglo Oriental (MAO) College. Historically the college became more famous initially due to the accomplishments of its sportsmen rather than for the academic excellence. 

With such a strong background in sports, the institution has remained a nursery for outstanding sportsmen and players all along and the tradition has continued with great fervour. The Aligarhians, as the alumni of the AMU are often called, have done wonders in many other fields too.

Engr Mohammad Adil Usman, who was an outstanding badminton player during his student life, has become one of the leading engineers and educationists of Pakistan.

He was elected as the President of the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), Pakistan, in April 2013 when he also took over as the Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi. 

A great grandson of the legendary Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, he has set high standards in every sphere of life. He has excelled in every role he chose for himself and he takes pride in leading by example.

Engr Adil Usman, besides playing badminton, also actively participated in the table tennis, cricket, hockey and billiards at the AMU whose sporting culture inspired him immensely. 

On the basis of his exceptional performance, he was appointed the captain of the AMU’s badminton team for the academic year 1965-66. It’s a hounor he cherishes to this day.

He has every reason to feel proud of his sporting accomplishment at the AMU because it had so many outstanding athletes in its folds and he was also one of the shining lights.

He recalled that the sports and games activities were organized under the patronage of the University Games Committee with Vice-Chancellor as the chairman. 

The University Games Committee consisted of main clubs and sub clubs. The AMU has had separate fields for cricket, hockey, football, tennis, riding and athletics. Indoor facilities like billiards, chess, carom, table tennis, swimming and badminton were also available for boys and girls students separately. 

“Our sporting facilities were exceptional and we were encouraged to participate in maximum number of disciplines. Although we didn’t have the services of professional coaches those days we did have the opportunity of learning from our seniors in the available infrastructure,” Engr Adil Usman remarked in a recent interview. 

“I was more inclined towards my engineering education which didn’t allow me to continue playing badminton to take part in the national tournaments. That’s one of those things. You have to make odd sacrifices,” he observed. 

He, however, remains a great supporter of sports. He firmly believes that character-building of students is much important as their education at any level. He reckons that education without character is like a flower without fragrance and education isn’t mere textbook knowledge. 

The SSUET Chancellor pointed out that character is an amalgam of many qualities like honesty, integrity, dependability, diligence, loyalty, compassion, sincerity, attentiveness, determination and confidence. 

“Good character is when your head, heart, soul and hands agree to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons and the combined effort gets the right results in the midst of the most adverse conditions,” he elaborated. 

“As a matter of fact education in the true sense has a great role to play in shaping ones personality and character. Let a student learn thoroughly whatever he may learn and let his conduct be worthy of his learning,” he emphasized.

Engr Adil Usman, having graduated from the AMU in the discipline of Electrical Engineering in 1968, is the Chief Executive of the Associated Technical Consultants, a renowned engineering consulting firm. He has been taking active interest in the promotion of technical education in Pakistan besides his other social sector engagements. He is the founder member of the SSUET having been a member of the Board of Governors for the last many years.

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