Newly-crowned Asian snooker champion Rory Thor Chuan Leong may not realise his chance to play in the professional Tour in the UK unless he can secure some sponsors. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Newly-crowned Asian snooker champion Rory Thor Chuan Leong may not realise his chance to play in the professional Tour in the United Kingdom unless he can secure some sponsors.
Chuan Leong beat Taiwan’s Hung Chung-ming 7-3 in the best-of-13-frame final in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday to become only the third Malaysian champion at the Asian Championships after Sam Chong (1990) and Ooi Chin Kay (1994).
Melvin Chia, the Malaysian Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF) president, admitted they do not have enough funds to sponsor Chuan Leong’s foray into next year’s UK professional Tour.
“Rory has been given a two-year wildcard. It is great news but we may have to reassess his participation on the Tour as we are unclear over our finances. We may try to source for sponsors and maybe fund Rory for selected tournaments of the Tour,” said Chia.
The development of the sport was halted after the MSBF were suspended by the Sports Commissioner’s Office for two years in 2011. The ban was only lifted in September last year and the new elected office bearers are in the dark over the association’s finances.
Currently, the snooker players also do not even have a proper venue to train.
“We used to have a training centre with snooker tables at Casa I at the National Sports Complex before the federation were suspended in 2011. The centre is now occupied by the national silat team. I hope the National Sports Council (NSC) will grant us an alternative venue as we want to set up a development squad.
“Rory and 2007 SEA Games champion Moh Keen Hoo were among those who benefited from the previous development programme before it was stopped.
“As for our elite members Rory, Keen Hoo and Muhd Reza, they are training at various venues but gather on a monthly basis for centralised training,” said Melvin, adding that the MSBF were in the process of hiring a chief coach for the elite squad.
“Rory won the Asian Championships without the assistance of a coach. But for our country’s best players to progress, they need the guidance of a specialised coach.”
The team have been without a coach since Sam resigned in 2007.
Meanwhile, the MSBF have won the bid to host next year’s Asian Championships.
“The tournament will be held next April, but we have yet to decide on the venue. This will be the first major snooker event to be held in Malaysia in more than 15 years.”