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Sunday Aug 13 2017

"Are we not country's heroes," questions victorious Pakistan snooker team upon return

Pakistan snooker team returned home on Saturday 

KARACHI: Holding glittering trophies in their hands but disappointed with the government's attitude, Pakistan snooker team returned home early Saturday after winning the IBSF World Snooker Championship in Egypt.

Pakistan team, comprising of Muhammad Asif and Babar Masih, won the title after beating countrymen Muhammad Sajjad and Asjad Iqbal in the final as both the finalist teams were from Pakistan — a first in the history of snooker.

Players were received by officials of Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association at Karachi airport. However, not a single government official was present on the occasion.

"Forget them announcing anything, they didn't even say anything to congratulate the players," said Alamgir Sheikh, co-chairman of PBSA.

Players were also disappointed at being neglected by the government, yet still expressed commitment to win more titles for Pakistan.

"When the cricket team won the Champions Trophy, everyone was here to welcome them, everyone announced rewards for them, but nothing of that sort has been done for us, which is disappointing," said Muhammad Asif, who has now five major titles in snooker for the country.

"It is disappointing, yet we are committed to bring more laurels for the country," he said.

Pakistan has won three major snooker titles in a span of just two months. Cueists wearing green blazers earlier won World U18 and Asian 6 reds title.

"I request the government to pay attention to snooker the way it pays attention to cricket or other sports," said Muhammad Sajjad, who was runner up in team championship and won Asian 6 reds earlier.

"This step-motherly treatment will demoralise snooker players and push performers to oblivion," he added.

Players were of the view that no one waited for a moment before announcing rewards for cricketers while they were ignored by all quarters.

"Are we not the county's heroes?" asked Asjad Iqbal.

"We are also winning titles for Pakistan... we also deserve some rewards, which is our right," he said.

But despite all the complaints and grievances, players said they are proud of what they have achieved and Pakistan snooker is at its peak.

"Thanks to Allah that we have been winning continuously, which is a good sign. This was the first time in history that both the finalist teams of world championship are from the same country," said Babar Masih, who partnered with Asif to win the final.

"It's a proud moment for Pakistan," cheered Asif when asked how he is feeling to be crowned as world champion, once again.

Snooker's governing body in Pakistan, the PBSA aims to contact government officials to convey players' grievances.

"First, I would say that this is a gift from snooker to the country on 70th Independence Day," said Munawar Sheikh, president PBSA.

"We will do what we can and we will also talk to PSB and other authorities to convey players' grievances to the government," he added.

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