Undeterred by turmoil, Syrian teenage snooker champion has his eyes set on bigger targets
IMAGE: Yazan started playing snooker at the age of 12. Photograph: Asian Snooker Championships
Two years ago a man blew himself up near his home. The blast in Syrian capital of Damascus killed his neighbours, ruined his home and damaged his vocal cords because of which he faced difficulty in speech for months.
But it failed to shake the determination of Yazan al-Hadad.
The 17-year-old snooker player is currently in Chandigarh for the 18th Asian Billiards, 20th U-21 Asian Snooker and the 3rd Ladies Asian Snooker Championships.
"A suicide bomber blew himself up in 2017 barely 10 metres from my house. I went into a shock after the incident and couldn't speak for a long time," he said.
Many of his neighbours in Kafrsosa area of Damascus and his friend's father were killed, Yazan, who studies in Class 11, said in Arabic through his coach and interpreter Basem Aboud.
The Lionel Messi fan wanted to be a footballer but unrest back home sprang up an opportunity for him in the shape of snooker which was played indoors.
Yazan started playing snooker at the age of 12, his coach said.
"He is a national champion under-18. We don't have a player of his level in entire Syria," the coach said.
"Many promising players of Syria shifted out to Germany, Turkey and France due to the unrest. We hope they will return now as situation back home is improving," he said.
"We have club near his house, which has two snooker and two billiards tables where he practices," he said.
Yazan said his aim is to win the world snooker championship. The young player puts in hours of practice daily and wants to make his country proud with his achievements one day.
He said the unrest back home has not affected his determination to make a mark for himself and make his country proud.
Yazan visited Bengaluru recently for the Asian Snooker tour Championship.
The coach said Yazan was a kid when Syria last hosted a major snooker tournament in December 2010.
His father is a football coach, mother a housewife, he has younger brother and a sister.
His elder brother Moaeed, who was in the army, was killed fighting the Islamic State terrorist group.