By: Asem Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: It is four months now and the runner up world champion Babar Masih is worried how he will manage and face the international circuit.
“I have not touched the cue for four months now,” said Babar in his exclusive talks with The Dayspring.
The inspiration for Babar Masih, twice the national champion and runner up in the World Team Snooker Championship held in Doha, Qatar, 2019, is surprisingly none other than the Quaid-i-Azam himself. The Father of the Nation had been, in his early years, playing billiard and Pakistan’s National Archives does have the picture of him that shows the young Jinnah playing billiard while holding a cigar and a cue in an immaculate style.
“As a child I have always hold currency dear and with Quaid’s photo on it, it opened the doors of adventure as well as pleasure,” said the national champion adding, “I could get the sweets I wanted and travel to friends as I wanted.”
“Quaid’s photo on the currency note added with the game were two factors for me to be in the sport,” said Babar adding, “The great Quaid worked for achieving Pakistan while I work for hoisting Pakistan flag in the international arena.”
Answering a query the champion said,” It has been very difficult few months as I couldn’t train and all sports activities are on hold there is no activity at the club level.”
Babar Masih has a very humble back ground the only regret he has that he never finished school and after grade 7 he was spending times in snooker clubs following others who paid to play and he watched and learned as they play.
Rawalpindi’s Shahram Snooker Club was the place where Babar Masih started as a 15-year-old, in the year 2005. “I waited for my turn to play suggesting other players at the table to take angular shots to pot the balls. Players who won against the others wanted to play with me and I, beside playing, suggested and coached the opponents at the same time.”
Babar break came in 2013 when he became the Punjab Champion. He won the event on a battered local cue which amazed all his opponents who had expensive playing sticks. Then there was no stopping afterwards: he joined the Shender Snooker Academy and started playing there. The hard work paid off in 2015 when World Team Snooker Championship was hosted in Karachi. Shahram Changezi and Babar Masih secured third place in the team event with Bronze Medals.
Babar’s dream came true in 2016 when he became National Champion. Also the same year Muhammad Asif and Babar Masih represented Pakistan in the Asian Snooker Championship winning Bronze Medal in the team event. Babar Masih along with Muhammad Asif have been the world champion in the World Team Snooker Championship held in Egypt in 2017.
Standing at the top, the World Team Snooker Championship became possible in 2017 followed by Silver Medal in Asian Team Event Snooker Championship in Kyrgyzstan. Muhammad Bilal and Babar paired for the team event in the Asian Championship. Babar and Muhammad Asif paired again in 2018 winning the Asian Team Snooker Championship held at Doha followed by Silver Medal in the World Team Snooker Championship, also held at Doha, Qatar.
The year 2018 also earned him the title of National Champion.
Recently, in July, Babar participated in the Team Event of Asian Team Snooker Championship held at Doha, Qatar. He along with Zulfiqar Agha beat Indian team to win the Gold Medal. In Asian Snooker Champion Individual Event, he finished with Bronze Medal. He also participated in the Asian Six Red Event held at Doha, Qatar, the same month winning Silver Medal in the team event.
All this became possible with hard work and countless hours of practice. “I want to thank my parents and my mentors – late Abrar Azeem, Alamgir Sheikh and Dr Amir Khan and friends. All have been very supportive when I showed them the first medal in 2013. In six years I have finished with two gold medals in Asian Team Championships, two times national champion and one-time gold medal winner in World Team Championship.”