Rooha Javed holds a master's degree in international relations and is currently performing a job as a visiting lecturer.
Ahsan Ramzan’s Historic Win
Youth triumphed over experience as Pakistan’s Ahsan Ramzan, 16, rallied from behind to defeat Iran’s Amir Sarkhosh, 30, in the dramatic 11-frame final of the IBSF World Men Snooker Championship held in Doha, and became the sport’s youngest-ever winner. On the scoreboard, the Pakistani champion scored 63-60, 91-0(70), 56-34, 01-102(102), 28-68, 27-66, 86-18, 1-70, 69-0, 63-17, and 67-25 in the final five frames of the match, by defeating Sarkosh.
Despite the seasoned and many national champions, his remarkable climb in the men’s tournament indicated no talent shortage within Pakistan and conveyed a strong message that the country’s future lies in young people’s investment. There was a heartbreaking moment when Pakistan’s teen phenom Ahsan Ramzan defeated the twice winner and defending Champion Mohammad Asif in the IBSF (International Billiards and Snooker Federation) World Snooker Championship semi-finals.
It appeared to be a handover of the torch to the next generation. When one wins against one’s sports idol, a certain satisfaction comes with it, and Ahsan’s reaction was priceless. This victory gave him the confidence he needed to compete in the final against Iran’s player, Amir Sarkhosh.
Hopeful Prospects in Pakistan’s Sports
Over the last decade, Pakistan’s overall quality of sports has deteriorated drastically; meanwhile, snooker has emerged as one of the few bright spots on the horizon in recent years. The sport of snooker in Pakistan is gaining momentum on the world scene. Thanks to a steady influx of new talent and skills, its future is promising.
On the other hand, Pakistani sports is a lonely light of hope in a country where the skies are darkening. Recently, Pakistan’s amateur game has taken off, and the sport is now known for its high level of quality. After forming in 1958, the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) hosted the country’s inaugural National Snooker Championship the following year. In 1966, Karachi was the host of the 2nd IBSF World Snooker Championship, the first of many tournaments conducted in the city over the next few decades.
Pakistan’s History in the World Snooker Championship
Pakistan fielded three representatives in this year’s competition in Doha, with Mohammad Sajjad falling to Amir in the other last-four match. Ahsan defeated Muhammad Asif, the incumbent champion, and compatriot, in the semi-finals to go to the last round. Several other Pakistanis have also brought the championship titles to Pakistan’s homeland in snooker history.
In 1994, veteran snooker player Muhammad Yousuf was crowned the world snooker champion. He defeated Gary Wilson from England by scoring 10-8 in Sofia, Bulgaria, and became the first Pakistani snooker champion. An additional Pakistani player, Muhammad Saleh, reached the finals of the World Snooker Championship in 2004, although Indian player Pankaj Advani defeated him in the finals to take home the trophy.
After Yousuf secured the title of world snooker champion, another Pakistani player, Muhammad Asif, played against Vinnie Calabrese from Australia, Wael Talat from Egypt, Mr. Alkojah from Syria, and Alexx Borg from Malta, and defeated them to make ways to the trophy, in 2012. Then in 2019, IBSF World Snooker Championship finalist Muhammad Asif of Pakistan won his second world title by defeating Jeffrey Roda of the Philippines, scoring 8-5 in the tournament’s final, held in Turkey’s Antalya.
The Journey of the IBSF Champion Ahsan Ramzan
Ahsan Ramzan is from Lahore, Pakistan, and has played snooker since he was ten years old and competed at a junior level. He is the youngest player in the IBSF tournament. After claiming victories in the World Snooker Championship, Ahsan Ramzan became the third person from Pakistan to get the championship title, after Muhammad Yousuf (1994) and Muhammad Asif (2012 and 2019).
During his last match against Iran’s Amir Sarkhosh, the teenager displayed tremendous dexterity and finesse. For more than five hours, it exposed the mental and emotional strength of the two cueists, revealing a level of intimacy only they could have known. While both players put on a spectacular show in the last round of play, Ahsan came out on top in the end.
As Muhammad Asif, the two-time world snooker champion, defended his title from his victory in 2019, Ahsan retained Pakistan’s world title in the country’s hands. In the semi-final, Ahsan defeated Asif 5-4, while Pakistan’s third player, former Asian Championship winner Muhammad Sajjad, was defeated 5-4 by Sarkhosh.
In 2021, Ahsan Ramzan etched his name into the game’s annals by becoming the youngest men’s finalist but was unlucky not to earn another piece of history by winning five national titles. However, he has won three national titles – U16, U17, and U18. But he could not ace the title against Sheikh M. Mudasser in the national U-21 championship round with a 3-8 score. Furthermore, before making his international debut, Ahsan defeated Indian player Digvijay Kadian with a 3-1 difference in the game.
In addition to receiving compliments from the President of the Asian body, he was awarded US$600 on March 5, and he has promised to put on a more remarkable performance at the men’s World Snooker Championship in August.
Supporting the Youth
These accomplishments have occurred with little or no backing or economic assistance from the national government. It has been a long time since the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association has asked the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination for financial help in the sport. According to the current situation, the Pakistan Sports Board has not provided the PBSA with annual funding for the past four years.
Even the financial conditions have deteriorated to the point where monthly payments have been suspended to the centrally contracted players. Furthermore, the PBSA claims that the government grant for players to travel abroad to represent Pakistan has not reimbursed the organization. Because of this, the accomplishments of Pakistan’s cueists, particularly Ahsan, are all the more remarkable for their efforts.
Some speculate that they could go even further if they had more substantial assistance. At present, Pakistan has secured the top position in the snooker rankings on the international level, but if aid does not arrive soon, it may not be able to maintain its position for long.
Ahsan has a long journey ahead of him, and he will require financial assistance. The Punjab Sports Board should step up and sponsor him, particularly in the educational expenditures and provide him with a hefty monthly stipend to cover the costs of his regular training sessions.
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