x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Local thrill as Goulam wins frame

Ahmed Goulam was all smiles as he walked from the arena at the International Exhibition Centre - he had won a frame of snooker against a pro.

MANAMA // Ahmed Goulam was all smiles as he walked from the arena at the International Exhibition Centre - he had won a frame of snooker against a pro. Goulam, 20, a student in finance and accounting at the local Kingdom University, spent the 10-minute journey from his home to the exhibition centre under no illusions that he would beat Barry Pinches in the wild-card round of the inaugural Bahrain Championship. After all, he played his first frame of snooker only five years ago.

Just an hour after breaking off against Pinches yesterday, Goulam found himself trailing 3-0. But less than 20 minutes later he as he beaming and his watching family were applauding. The home boy had compiled breaks of 28 and 50 to take a frame. To be fair, Pinches is not the player he was but for Goulam it was a "dream come true" despite losing the next two frames 112-0 and 101-15. "Just to play here against a professional is everything I have dreamed of," Goulam said.

He began playing snooker "by accident". He went to a club to play pool but every table was taken. He was offered the club's only snooker table so he thought he would "give it a go". And so began a devotion that now sees him practise for three hours a day. His highest break is 115 but he hopes, with sponsorship, to be able to learn his trade at the Sheffield snooker academy. One lucky Gulf player yesterday was Oman's Ahmed Basheer al Khusaibis. Although being on the wrong end of a 5-0 thrashing by Marcus Campbell, Khusaibis had the best seat in the house as he watched his opponent knock home a maximum 147, which earned the Scot Dh127,000.

cwhebell@thenational.ae