India likely to miss Asian snooker events: Sheikh

Neighbouring cueists yet to obtain NOC for championships starting Aug 17.

KARACHI: India are almost certain to miss the upcoming Asian Snooker Team and 6-Red Championships to be held in Karachi, as they have yet to receive the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) required for the events.

This was revealed by Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) President Alamgir Sheikh during a ceremony and press briefing for the events that will be played at a local hotel from August 17-23.

The PBSA sent invitations to more than 30 countries, but now there will be only 13 that will send their teams to Pakistan — Afghanistan, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Syria, Thailand and the UAE.

“There’s a 99% chance that India will miss the Asian Champions due to NOC issues,” said Sheikh.

“We tried hard to get clearance for the Indian contingent today [Wednesday], but it wasn’t possible as our interior minister has been quite busy.

“Tomorrow [Thursday] we have our independence day, and then it’s India’s turn to celebrate theirs. Saturday [August 16] is a government holiday, which altogether leaves us in a tight corner.” Sheikh hoped that the Pakistani players will do all they can to win both titles at home.

Mohammad Asif will be defending his crown in the 6-Red tournament, while other Pakistani cueists hoping to make a mark include Mohammad Sajjad, Muhammad Asif Toba, Hamza Akbar, Asjad Iqbal, Sohail Shehzad, Abdul Sattar and Shahid Aftab.

Meanwhile, the four teams from Pakistan are Asif-Sajjad, Imran Shehzad- Shahid, Shahram Changezi-Asjad and Sohail-Muhammad Bilal.

The official added that the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry was being discriminatory in its approach towards snooker, stating that Commonwealth Games medallists were awarded instantly whereas Asif, the former IBSF world champion, is yet to be honoured after more than 18 months.

Legendary squash player Jahangir Khan was also present on the occasion and he urged the government to respect its national heroes.

“It’s time we start honouring our heroes and world champions in order to motivate the youth,” said Jahangir. “Potential players won’t take sports seriously if our current bright lot is ignored. We should start treating all sports equally because it’s not wise to focus on just one or two games.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2014.

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