Saheed the Lankan cue world legend | Sunday Observer

Saheed the Lankan cue world legend

Frouse Saheed
Frouse Saheed

Former Billiards and Snooker ace Frouse Saheed became the first President of the Asian and the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (the World Body) from Sri Lanka and served the sport with distinction.

The name Frouse Saheed, is unique in the Billiards and Snooker circle. There can hardly be a country where he was not known. As a player and as a sports administrator Saheed has brought credit and honour to Sri Lanka. He was the best known in the game around the world and has a history in cue sport.

Born on December 14, 1941 Saheed hailed from Galle and was a product of St. Aloysius College, where he played football, cricket, did athletics and table tennis. He was very fortunate that he studied under the tutelage of great Catholic Missionaries such as Fathers De Matia, Morelli, Moraes, Lermissiox, Gaspard, from Italy, France, Belgium and United States of America. They were great Educationists.

Saheed played with some well-known famous reputed cueists such as M.J. Rahim and M. Marzook. He became the Southern Province Champion in Billiards and Snooker and the Galle Gymkhana Club. His great achievement was when he became the runner-up in the Nationals to the legendary World Champion M.J.M. Lafir in 1973. He also won the Lanka Plate.

While being a leading gem businessman, he indulged in cue sports at the Anglers Club. It was here, that he met many leading personalities, who were promoters of Billiards and Snooker. Another notable achievement was that he played a key role in shaping some of the talented players to world standards.

It was in the year 1982 that Saheed sounded the idea of forming an Asian Federation as the Asians were not faring well in World Championships. The Asian delegates assembled at the AGM for the 1982 World Snooker Championship in Calgary, Canada and held a meeting and explained the importance of having such a Federation.

He single handedly attended to every detail required for its formation. At the next AGM in Valetta, Malta in 1983 he confirmed the birth of such a federation. His ambitions and all his efforts paid off when the first Asian Snooker Championship was held at the Bangkok Place Hotel in Thailand 1984 and Saheed was the first Executive President who later became the Asian President in 1988.

Some of his achievements in the world of Billiards were forming the Asian Billiard and Snooker Federation in 1984 with Maurice Kerr and Chairman IBSF - the World Governing Body - 1990-1994. He was also the president of the Sri Lanka Billiards and Snooker Association.

The Asian Championship was first played for the M.J.M.Lafir trophy which was designed and made in Kandy. Today, the Asian tournament is in place but not the M.J.M.Lafir Memorial trophy. In 1986 Sri Lanka hosted the Third Asian Snooker championships at the Taj Samudra Hotel. In 1986 under the presidency of Saheed the fifth Asian championship was held in 1986 at the Ramada Hotel.

Saheed, became the first Sri Lankan to contest and win a World Presidency, that was in 1990 when the World Snooker Championship was held in Colombo. At that time the Sri Lanka cue body was under the Presidency of Jagath Sumathipala and that was the year Saheed beat New Zealand’s Brian Bennet to became the President of the International Billiards and Snooker Federation.

The first World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS) annual general meeting was held at Yverdon les Bains in Switzerland on January 25, 1992 and Saheed was offered the post of President but he declined and served as a Director of Sports of all three disciplines.

Saheed travelled everywhere cue sports was played and gave a big hand for the game in every way possible. He visited several countries to promote the game and I was sharing his point of view that the best way to do it was to meet delegates and listen to the Federations when they need help. Saheed’s last meeting in the snooker game was in 2006 in Sri Lanka during the 22nd Asian Championship.

He put Sri Lanka on the map of the cue world when he held the posts of President of the local governing body, the Asian and then the world body. He had a great knowledge of the game and attended tournaments all over the world.

Saheed was truly a legend whose behaviour was always exemplary. Immaculately dressed, and a man who was dedicated to the sport, he was a model for other sports promoters and his death left a void in Sri Lanka Billiards and Snooker that will take a long time to fill.

All in all he was a good President and encouraged a lot of countries and rendered a great service in promoting the sport in Kandy.

The name “billiards” came from the French word “billart,” which meant wooden stick and “bille,” which meant ball. So the combined version of “billart” and “bille” is “billiards”. This translates to a game that uses a wooden stick and a ball. Although the French created the modern sport that is known as billiards today, the game itself had predecessors that dated before the 15th century.

Snooker gained its identity in 1875 when army officer Sir Neville Chamberlain (1856–1944), stationed in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, devised a set of rules that combined pyramid and black pool. The word snooker was a long-used military term for inexperienced or first-year personnel. The game grew in popularity in the United Kingdom.