February 28, 2014

Jubilee Insurance eager to take snooker to higher level


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Jubilee General Insurance as well as the Jubilee Life Insurance have expressed the desire to take snooker to higher level and they would continue supporting cue sports in Pakistan in future as well.

The assurance in this regard was given by none other than the sports-loving Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, during the media briefing held to launch the Jubilee Insurance 39th National Snooker Championship 2014 at the Karachi Gymkhana on February 28. 

The 10-day event will start off at the Gymkhana’s Snooker Hall on March 1. 

“My colleague Javed Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee Life Insurance, is also on board and it’s our joint strategy to play our due role in the progress and advancement of snooker in Pakistan. We have been doing it for the last few years and we will continue doing so in the future as well,” he remarked. 

“It’s heartening to note that snooker has become a very popular sport now which is followed in nearly every home of our country. The emergence of high quality cueists augurs very well for the future of the game,” Tahir Ahmed observed while pointing towards Mohammad Asif, the 2012 world champion, who was also sitting on the stage. 

The President of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Alamgir Shaikh, acknowledged the massive sponsorship support offered by the twin Jubilee Insurance companies over the years. 

“They have played the most significant role in taking snooker to the present level where we are able to extract positive results. Sponsoring three national ranking tournaments every year in these times is quite an accomplishment. They have been doing it for the past seven years and their reassurance is very well taken,” the PBSA chief observed. 

Ali Rahim, President, Karachi Gymkhana, and Mohammad Ali, Business Unit Head, Geo Super, also spoke on the occasion and both of them pledged to continue contributing for the cause of snooker.

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February 27, 2014

Yousuf to accompany junior cueists in Asian Championship


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Mohammad Yousuf, a former world champion, will finally undertake a visit in the capacity of a coach as he has been assigned the task of accompanying the Pakistani cueists in the upcoming Asian Junior Snooker Championship to be staged in Mohali, India, in April.

The first Pakistani to win the World Snooker Championship in 1994, Yousuf also had a stint with the junior cueists at home but this would be first assignment abroad in the capacity of a coach.. 

He is arguably the greatest cueist to be produced by the country, having also annexed the Asian Championship as well as the World Seniors Championship. 

The 62-year-old master craftsman, who is still playing in the national circuit, has been residing in Rawalpindi for the last few years where he is coaching young cueists at the Dolphin Snooker Club, rated as one of the best and the largest snooker clubs of Pakistan 

His appointment as coach for the continental event was confirmed by Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), in a recent interview. 

“Yousuf has not only been appointed the commandant of the camp for the national junior squad but he will also be accompanying the boys when they cross the border to lock horns with the best young talent of the continent,” the PBSA President stated, adding that the quartet of Mohammad Majid Ali, Haris Nadeem, Hamza Akbar and Mohammad Faheem will benefit a lot by the guidance of Yousuf.

“Since the government has still not released our funds, having become long overdue, we have decided to send our contingent to India by road, instead of taking the aerial route, in order to curtail the costs. They will enter into India from the Wagah border from where they will be transported to Mohali by the hosts,” the PBSA President disclosed. 

“We have spoken to Yousuf and he has agreed to coach the junior squad in the training camp to be held in Faisalabad next month besides travelling with them to India for the Asian Championship,” Alamgir Shaikh added. 

“Yousuf has been an outstanding cueist all along. His coaching will certainly help our youngsters in improving their skills,” the Pakistan snooker chief reckoned. 

The PBSA President further revealed that Majid Ali, Haris Nadeem, Hamza Akbar and Mohammad Faheem, who were the semifinalists of the recently held Jubilee Insurance 6th National Junior Under-21 Snooker Championship 2014 in Karachi, will be participating in all the four national ranking tournaments of the current year. 

“The youngsters are our future. We have taken the responsibility of grooming them. We are leaving no stone unturned in facilitating them. We desire to give them maximum possible exposure of competitive snooker to let them find a foothold in the arena. That’s why we have allowed them to take part in every ranking tournament at the national level,” Alamgir Shaikh concluded.

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February 24, 2014

Majid Ali outshines Haris Nadeem to clinch national junior crown


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Haris Nadeem, a resident of Nazimabad, came close to becoming the first cueist from Karachi to win the national junior snooker title but he ran out of steam at the last hurdle with Mohammad Majid Ali, one of the most promising youngsters of the country, proving too good for him.

The teenager from the little-known town of Samandari located in District Faisalabad of Punjab annexed the Jubilee Insurance 6th National Junior Under-21 Snooker Championship 2014 by outplaying the Sindh Cup champion, Haris Nadeem, in the final at the Movenpick Hotel, Karachi, on February 20. 

Majid Ali, who had finished runner-up in the last edition of the Asian Junior Snooker Championship, was simply unstoppable in the best of 11-frame final which he won 6-1 with the scores of 95-0, 58-85, 67-31, 89-8, 83-1, 60-36, 75-28. 

He simply extended his superlative for, having toppled Hamza Akbar, the top seed as well as the reigning national champion, in the semifinals. In the final he was also helped by the lack of big match experience of Haris Nadeem who was missed quite a few easy balls, appearing to have been overawed by the occasion. 

The prize distribution ceremony was held soon after the conclusion of the final in which Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, and Javed Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee Life Insurance, were the guests of honour.

Majid Ali received a cash award of Rs 40,000 alongwith the glittering trophy while Haris Nadeem collected the runner-up trophy with a cash award of Rs 20,000. 

The beaming Majid Ali also received another cash award of Rs 10,000 for registering the highest break (101) of the competition while Hamza Akbar and Mohammad Faheem, both of them from Punjab, got Rs 10,000 each for being the losing semifinalists. 

Tahir Ahmed, in his welcome address, expressed his delight with the continued emergence of bright young talent from every nook and corner of the country. He advised the youngsters to study the biographies of the sports greats produced by Pakistan and derive inspiration from their accomplishments in order to acquire consistency in their own performance. 

Javed Ahmed also applauded the grit of the junior cueists and he hoped that Pakistan will continue bringing home titles after titles in snooker as they have been doing in the recent past. He commended the finalists to have made the cut from a highly competitive draw. 

In his welcome address, the President of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, made special mention of local youngster Haris Nadeem for having played exceptionally well to reach the final of the six-day event. 

He announced that the quartet of Majid Ali, Haris Nadeem, Hamza Akbar and Mohammad Faheem, will represent Pakistan in the upcoming Asian Junior Snooker Championship to be held in Mohali, India, in April and they will participate in a one-month training camp will be organized at Faisalabad.

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February 20, 2014

Foreign teams set to participate in Pakistan Day International Bridge Tournament 2014


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Day International Bridge Tournament 2014, to be held at Hotel Pearl Continental, Karachi, from March 21 to 23, will be having greater foreign participation than was being anticipated. 

The organizers have already received confirmation from players from as many as 11 countries including Turkey, Canada, Australia, Egypt, Norway, Jordan, China, India, England and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the first international bridge tournament to be staged in Pakistan in 17 years. 

Khurshid Hadi, President, Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP), who was the chief organizer of the Pakistan Golden Jubilee Championship 1997, is in the forefront again, mobilizing his resources to do it once more. This time he has been blessed with a better organizational team which seems to be having the capacity to deliver. 

The Pakistan Day International Bridge Tournament 2014 is a joint venture of the MSAP and the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), which is currently headed by Nawab Yousuf Talpur, with Gulzar Bilal being the Secretary.

Pizza Hut, Tapal Tea, Inbox Technologies and J S Bank are the sponsors of the three-day event with Geo Super being the exclusive media partner. 

The total prize money of the tournament will be US$20,000 with the team event offering US$17,000 and the pairs contest to carry rewards of US$3,000. 

The organizing committee held a session with the sponsors at the venue of the tournament, on February 20. A media briefing in this regard had already been organized more than a week ago. 

Khurshid Hadi, in his welcome address, recognized the sponsors for joining hands with them in promoting the event, aimed at boosting the soft image of the country. 

“Let’s not forget that the conditions are far from ideal and we do need momentous efforts to bring about a change collectively. The Pakistan Day International Bridge Tournament 2014 could help immensely in changing the perception and earning goodwill for the country, besides reviving the mind sport,” he remarked. 

“Let me put on record the efforts of Pakistan’s legendary bridge player, Zia Mahmood, in playing his role in roping in the overseas players, although he himself won’t be in a position to come over due to his preoccupations there,” Khurshid Hadi added. 

Tahir Masood, Chairman, Organizing Committee, didn’t mince words in stating that he was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response they have been received from the foreign players. 

Gulzar Bilal, Secretary, Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), hinted at the possibilities of transforming the Pakistan Day tournament into a permanent annual event. 

Ahsan Zahir Rizvi, President, Karachi Bridge Association (KBA), was of the opinion that the upcoming international event will help greatly in motivating the youngsters to take to bridge. 

Aqeel Hasan, Managing Director, MCR (Pvt) Ltd, stated that Pizza Hut was proud to be associated with the international bridge tournament as Pakistan needed such kind of high-profile events at regular intervals. 

Ghias Khan, CEO, Inbox Technologies, while soliciting support for the junior prpgrammes of bridge, urged the MSAP and the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF) to lay emphasis on the youth circuit.

Syed Pervez Iqbal, Director MSAP, firmly believed that events like Pakistan Day International Bridge Tournament 2014 play a defining role in building a better image for the country.

Tariq Rasheed Khan, Director, MSAP, and a former President of the PBF, informed about the initiatives taken in the recent past to promote mind sports from the grassroots level. He particularly talked about the landmark inclusion of bridge as a proper subject in one of the leading schools of the city.

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February 14, 2014

Jubilee Insurance vow to further strengthen grassroots snooker


By Syed Khalid Mahmood 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The twin Jubilee Insurance companies, Jubilee General Insurance and Jubilee Life Insurance, have renewed the pledge to continue supporting the cause of snooker and they have urged for the creation of an Under-15 circuit at the national level.

“Now the time has come for the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) to mobilize their resources to start Under-15 tournaments which could bring about a revolution of sorts at the grassroots level. It’s about time to rope in the promising athletes early in their teens and groom them for the future,” and Tahir Ahmed, Managing Director, Jubilee General Insurance, remarked during a media briefing at the Karachi Gymkhana on February 13. 

“The junior circuit has been playing a crucial role in boosting the Pakistan snooker. It has provided the platform to the talented youngsters and they have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Most of the top cueists of the country are young which augurs very well for the future of the sport,” Tahir Ahmed added. 

“The juniors hold the key to Pakistan’s future. Let’s provide them the opportunities and the facilities they deserve to move forward,” he suggested. 

The PBSA President, Alamgir Shaikh, who was recently elected unopposed as the Senior Vice President of the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS), agreed to the suggestion of the major sponsors of snooker in Pakistan and vowed to find ways and means to launch an Under-15 circuit in the near future. 

He, however, remained more concerned about the continued delay in the release of funds by the government and he didn’t rule the possibility of staging a sit-in in the federal capital later this month if the promises were not fulfilled by the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC). 

Meanwhile Mohsin Amin will defend his title in the Jubilee Insurance 6th National Junior (Under-21) Snooker Championship 2014 which will be getting underway at the Movenpick Hotel Arcade in Karachi on February 15. 

Alongwith the four provinces, Islamabad will also be represented in the latest edition of the National Junior Championship which offers prize money of Rs 105,000 with the winner to collect Rs 40,000 and the runner-up to receive Rs 20,000. 

Both the losing semifinalists will be getting Rs 10,000 each while the losing quarter-finalists will be compensated with Rs 5,000 each and the highest break of the competition also carries a cash reward of Rs 5,000. 

The tournament, whose winner and runner-up will earn the right to represent the country in the 15th Asian Under-21 Snooker Championship 2014 due to be staged at Mohali, India, in April, will be contested by a total of 34 junior cueists from all over the country, having qualified for the event by virtue of their outstanding performance in their respective provincial cups held recently. 

It was revealed that Mohammad Majid Ali, who ended runner-up in the last edition of the Asian Junior Championship, has been granted direct entry which has allowed Pakistan to field three, instead of two, cueists in this year’s continental event.

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