KARACHI: After becoming the first Pakistani cueist to join the professional snooker circuit, Hamza Akbar is stuck in one of the most frustrating ordeals for Pakistani sportsmen — getting the visa on time.
The 21-year-old, who applied for the visa to the UK around a month back, is still awaiting permission to enter the country where he will be living for two years. “I’m getting restless now because all the paperwork has been done and preparations have been completed. The only thing we await is the visa and the delay is quite annoying,” Hamza told The Express Tribune.
Hamza, who already missed out on the first event of the circuit in Latvia — which started on July 29 — is also set to miss the next circuit in China — the Shanghai Masters — which starts on Wednesday, and feels that he is missing out on some important game time and therefore would not get a good head-start in the competition.
“As a player, when you are enrolled in a top competition, you want to start with things as quickly as possible because you can’t get rolling straightaway,” said Hamza, who qualified for the circuit courtesy his triumph in the Asian Championship last this year. “I would need a few matches to get used to the pace and tempo of the professional circuit, but that hasn’t happened and I feel it puts me at a disadvantage.”
Hamza now has his eyes set on the German Masters, which starts on August 26, given he receives his visa in the timeframe of 10 days that the embassy has given him.
The youngest-ever national champion, who does not intend to pay the entry fee for the upcoming events until he receives his visa, has meanwhile asked the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) to reimburse entry fees he paid for the missed tournaments of Latvia and China.
Usually, the WPBSA does not entertain requests for refunds, but given the fact that he wasn’t able to make an appearance due to the visa process and that he is a first-timer in the event, the world body is ready to make an exception to return £400 he paid for the missed events.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2015.