ISLAMABAD-Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) minster Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada formally inaugurated the first ever snooker academy for the junior players of the country at Snooker Hall, Pakistan Sports Complex on Monday.

Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PSBA) president Alamgir A Shaikh, joint secretary IPC Hussain Ahmad Madni, PSB DDG Technical Syed Habib Shah, PSB Director National Federations M Azam Dar, Iranian coach Sohail Vahedi, PBSA training camp coordinator Naveed Kapadia along with others were also present there.

Sharing his views, Alamgir thanked the IPC minister for bearing all the expenses of Iranian coach and providing top class facilities for the training camp free of cost. “It is indeed a great help. Snooker is gaining popularity in Pakistan with each passing day and the PBSA is taking best possible steps to ensure maximum facilities, top class coaching for the local kids. Without PSB and IPC minister’s help, we couldn’t have even dreamt of inviting top Iranian coach, as he will take $2000 every trip.

“We will train our junior U-19, U-21 players for 16 to 17 days in first phase. We want him to come again in February and March for two to three more training sessions. In the first phase, M Majid Ali (Faisalabad), Harris Tahir (Lahore), M Umar (Lahore), Muzammil Khan (Karachi), M Faheem (Sahiwal), M Saqib (Gujranwala), Abdul Raheem (Rawalpindi) and Abdul Javed also from Rawalpindi. Soheil Vahedi is current world & Asian team champion-gold medalist and will coach our players,” he added.

When asked about why the association was only restricted to Karachi when it came to conduct major senior tournaments, Alamghir replied: “We conduct junior top tournaments in Lahore, but due to sponsors pressure, we are left with no other option but to conduct high-profile ranking tournaments in Karachi. We are ready to conduct top tournaments including international events in Islamabad, if sponsors are available.”  IPC Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada welcomed Iranian coach Soheil Vahedi to Pakistan and lauded efforts of the PBSA for promoting the snooker in Pakistan and also assured his all-out support to the association in their future endeavors.

When reminded about Asif and Babar Masih, who were still waiting for the incentives, the minister said: “We will give them cash awards as per rules of business.” To another query regarding snookers players meeting with the PM, he replied: “As soon as the PM is available, I will arrange a meeting.”