SNOOKER IS A BIG HEALER
Living in a strife-torn country, where bombs, missiles and death can come any time, it takes guts and single-minded purpose for a sportsperson to excel in his field. Coming from a Country Where the Last major Snooker Tournament Was Held over Eight Years Back, It was This rare Combination That helped 17 Years Old Syrian Cuiest Ya-zan al-Hadad become the Reigning U-18 National champion.
Last week in Chandigarh for the Asian U-21 snooker championship for boys and spoke to TOI about his chequered life. Football was Yazan's first love, but the civil war obliterated it. As Yazan explained, "No football grounds are left in my neighbourhood. People are scared of coming out."
Three years ago, an explosive-laden man blew himself up 10 metres from Yazan's house at Kafar Sousah In killing eight people, including Yazan's best friend, and left him with psychological scars. He even lost his voice due to the shock and still struggles to speak normally.
"The death of his friend affected him so deeply that his family had to seek psychiatric help for his vocal cords to function again," said Basem Aboud - his coach and interpreter. Yazan shook his head after catching a few English phrases spoken by his coach.
A year later, Yazan lost his elder brother, who was fighting against ISIS for the Syrian military. "He was very close to his brother. Both of them used to love playing football with their coach father. There is a big poster of Lionel Messi in his room” Said Baseem.
Thankfully, when Yazan suffered these shocks, snooker had already happened to him, and it played a big role in his recovery. Basem said, "We have a club in Kafar Sousah, it has just two tables. He used to come and see some people playing. He took up the sport in 2014."
Syria hosted a major snooker tournament last time in December 2010, and three months later, the war broke out which led to the bloodbath, and no room for sport. "There were 1,200 registered snooker clubs across the country with an average of 100 players in each. In 2013, Syria won the bronze medal in the men's team event at the Asian indoor games in South Korea. Now, there is no official count of clubs or players," recollects Basem. "Many clubs were destroyed in the bombings and lots of players fled the country, most of them to Europe," he added.
When asked why his family hadn't migrated to Europe, Yazan replied, "It is our home. Yes, we are afraid of the terrorists, not because we are cowards, but because we are human."
This article reminds me of one of my own experiences relating to this sport in my life which I started playing about 55 years ago. Here I am sharing one of the experiences with readers. About 45 years ago, I fell severely ill and not able to recover from my illness, that time I thought to go to nearby snooker parlour for a change. After playing for few hours, I came back to my home and pleasantly surprised to found that I recovered from my illness and after that day I tried this method whenever I use to fell ill and this game healed my illness and gave me full energy every time.
(RAVINDRA KUMAR GUPTA)