SAHIWAL: Sport lovers and amateur snooker players on Wednesday night accorded a warm welcome to 17-year-old Naseem Akhtar who has brought laurels to the country by becoming under-18 world snooker champion.
People from other callings including traders, holding flags, joined the celebrations and lauded the champion who had played with many of them for hours together at a local club.
Naseem Akhtar became the first Pakistani to win the IBSF U18 World Snooker Championship by defeating China’s Peifan Lei 5-3 in the final in Beijing.
The welcome procession passed through various parts of the city and it took him three hours to cover a three-kilometre distance from View Hotel to his home at Street No 11, Kot Khadim Ali Shah.
No senior official of the Pakistan Snooker and Billiards Association accompanied him to his hometown. Divisional Sports Officer Akbar Murad and district government representative Qadeer Bajwa welcomed him at the hotel but they did not participate in the procession.
Speaking to the media, Naseem Akhtar stressed the need for government support to promote snooker. And this could be done by having a snooker academy with international coaches in Sahiwal city and annual district and divisional level competitions, he said.
Naseem also visited City Snooker Club where he learned and practiced the game with his mentor Muhammad Shahbaz.
Speaking to Dawn, he regretted that there was no minister to greet him at the Lahore Airport. He said he would like to impart skills to other players to enable them to compete at the national and international level.
He said the Punjab Snooker Association provincial office-bearers announced Rs50,000 award for him on his arrival at the Lahore Airport. He said he would visit Egypt to attend Senior Snooker World Championship on Aug 1.
Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2017