The World Under 21 and Men’s Snooker Championships for the year 2021 was conducted by the International Billiards and Snooker Federation in Doha Qatar recently.
Two cueists were sanctioned by the Ministry of Sports on the recommendation of the Billiards and Snooker Association of Sri Lanka to take part in the under 21 World Category and similarly two players were approved for the World Men’s event.
Triple National Champion Mohamed Irshath Thaha, who won the National Championships in the Under 21 Snooker, Men’s Snooker and Billiards took part in both events, along with K. Al Fahim in the under 21 event and with M.. Rikaz in the Men’s event.
Whilst the other two players faded away in the preliminary rounds, amidst heavy International pressure, Thaha Irshath turned out in fabulous form to beat renowned International players to reach the Semi Final berth in the under 21 World event. He lost to an Austrian player in the Semi Finals, who eventually became the World Champion.
Irshath Thaha’s performance at a World event was the best by any player, which was achieved after 50 long years when Sri Lanka won its 1st ever World Champion in any sport, achieved by late M. J. M. Lafir way back in 1973 by clinching the World Amateur Billiards Championship.
In addition Thaha Irshath’s performance at the World Snooker event was all the more credible as he lost in the Quarter Finals and was ranked as a Quarter Finalist in the World. The top most rank that a cueist from the nation have ever achieved in the sport of Snooker.
Due to his prowess shown at the World event, the World Confederation of Billiard Sportsthe apex body affiliated to the National Olympic Council has invited Thaha to play at the forthcoming World Games to be held in the United States from July 11th to 17th 2022. The only athlete from Sri Lanka so invited. All what Thaha needs at present is constant practice under a watchful eye of a professional coach. The local Association neither has the capability and capacity nor local professional coaches approved by the Ministry to achieve this high performance. The Association does not have a permanent abode to call their own. The Sports Ministry is in the know of this situation as the Association has been struggling for the past 10 years, to achieve same.
It is high time that the Ministry look into grievances of such nature, for the betterment of the sport, as well as paving the way to young cueists from all over the country, to reach International standards in a planned methodical program to gain laurels to the country.