Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Armless Pakistani snooker player masters the game




Armless Pakistani snooker player masters the game

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Snooker was an unlkely passion for Muhammed Ikram, who was born with no arms, but he has spent years honing his craft and is a worthy opponent in any billiard hall. AFP

Armless Pakistani snooker player masters the game

Muhammad Ikram, who was born without arms, steps up to a snooker table, sizes up his options and with a firm flick of his chin strikes the cue ball and slots a red into a corner pocket.

The sport was perhaps an unlikely passion for Ikram, 32, to pursue, but the Pakistani player has spent years honing his skills and can now give anyone at his local snooker hall a run for their money.

“It is a tough job that requires hard work. If there is a player like me, I am ready to face him”, Ikram told AFP during a recent visit to the snooker hall in the small town of Samundri in Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab.

Born into a poor home, he and his eight siblings did not go to school and he spent much of his childhood feeling isolated.

As a teenager, he started to watch players in the local snooker hall and was inspired to start practising “in secret”.

“In the beginning, I used to push the balls by myself on an empty pool table,” Ikram said.

“Gradually, I improved my game and started playing with others.”

Ikram can now challenge the best players in town.

He demonstrated a range of shots, giving a solid and assured flick of his head to sink reds and then colours into pockets, drawing applause from other players.

“Chalk your chin,” one of them quipped after Ikram eventually missed a shot.

Worried he might injure himself, Ikram’s parents initially barred him from snooker for several years, but last year they allowed him to return to the sport.

His skills quickly turned him into something of an internet celebrity among Pakistan’s snooker-playing fraternity.

“I become famous,” Ikram said, though he confessed to having no idea what social media is.

Cricket is by far Pakistan’s most popular game, but snooker holds an important place in the country’s sporting scene.

British officers introduced the game during the colonisation of the Indian subcontinent and Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was a keen player.

Pakistan keeps no up-to-date statistics on people with disabilities, but non-governmental organisations estimate there to be more than 30 million in a country of about 220 million

A lack of a social safety net means the majority of the disabled population stay home.

Muhammad Nadeem, who owns the Samundri snooker hall, described Ikram as a “true sportsman”.

“We don’t charge him for a game. Instead people pay him to play with them,” Nadeem said.

“He has no competition, in cricket and football there are disabled players but when it comes to snooker he is a one-of-a-kind player.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma