A Pakistani snooker player has finally been granted a UK visa to play in Britain, after missing three tournaments because of problems getting a visa.
Hamza Akbar will compete in snooker’s Professional Circuit in Britain and abroad, becoming only the second snooker star from Pakistan after Shaukat Ali to make the grade.
Akbar, 21, won his place on the Professional Circuit after beating Indian player Pankaj Advani in the final of the Asian Championships.
He told the Express Tribune: “I’ve waited for almost two-and-a-half months to get my visa and I can’t wait any longer.
“I’m very excited as it was a dream to become a professional player and now I’m very close to it.”
Akbar will be based in Manchester while staying the UK. He is being sponsored by businessman Mohammad Nisar, who owns a snooker academy in the city and wrote to the UK authorities in support of Akbar’s visa application.
Akbar is currently 108 in the world snooker rankings and has set himself a goal of reaching the top 64 in the next two years, which will allow him to continue playing in the international elite of the sport.
Issues obtaining a UK visa had put the player’s career on pause but he is now looking forward to making up lost ground.
He said: “I have missed out on three tournaments but thankfully two of them didn’t carry big points. The next event is on September 29 in China, while the qualifying round is in UK and it carries good points. My aim is go through the qualifying stage and that would be enough to help me get going.”
He will stay with his sponsor in Manchester for two years and said living with a fellow Pakistani will help him to adjust to the UK’s culture.