His football dream dashed by death and destruction in Damascus, Yazan al-Hadad found succour in snooker, before an explosion nearly blew him away and damaged a part of his house. The turmoil continues in Syria but the big-time Lionel Messi fan, having faced the trials and tribulations with exemplary resilience, has become a national champion.
A man laden with explosives blew himself up near his house two years ago, leaving some of his neighbours dead. The incident still sends chill down his spine but it has failed to dampen his spirit to make a mark in the sport. Through his coach-cum-interpreter Basem Aboud, the 17-year-old Yazan narrated his agonising stories in Arabic."Close to my house a suicide bomber blew himself up in 2017.
The incident took place barely 10 metres from my house. I went into shock after the incident and couldn't speak for a long time," Yazan told PTI here. His his house is located in the Kafrsosa area of Damascus.
"Many of my neighbours, father of my friend who plays in the snooker club with me was killed," recalled the Class XI student.His elder brother Moaeed, who was in the army, was killed fighting against the ISIS.While his father is a football coach, his mother is a housewife, and he has a younger brother and sister."
He is a national champion under-18. We don't have a player of his level in entire Syria. Many promising players of Syria shifted out to Germany, Turkey and France due to unrest. We hope they will return now as situation back home is better than before," said the coach.Aiming higher, Yazan's next target is to "win the world championship" in China.
He said the unrest back home has not affected his focus or determination to make a mark for himself and to make his country proud.The coach said that Yazan was a kid when Syria last hosted a major snooker tournament in December 2010. He wanted to be a footballer but unrest back home eventually led to him becoming a player of the indoor sport.His coach said that Yazan started playing snooker at the age of 12.
"We have a club near his house, which has two snooker and two billiards tables where he practices," he said. Yazan was in Bengaluru recently for the Asian Snooker tour championship.The young player puts in hours of practice daily and wants to keep making his country proud with his achievements