Yasin Merchant’s standout achievement was to win the Asian Snooker title – in dramatic circumstances, with a helping hand from Allah.
But as he explains here, sport is perfect preparation for success in all walks of life.
Yasin says: “What I love most about snooker is that it gave me an opportunity to showcase my talent to the world and probably inspired some younger players to take up to the sport.
“Any sport builds in you a competitive streak … and that is a pre-requisite trait needed in the generation today to withstand the fierce competition that they face in all fields. My sport, like any other sport, helped me to build character and taught me how to overcome adversity.”
From disaster to triumph
It’s 30 years since the pinnacle of Yasin’s sporting career, but the effects have lasted a lifetime. “My greatest achievement has to be my Asian Snooker title in 1989 which I won from an absolutely hopeless situation,” he recalls.
“I was almost knocked out of the competition on the first day itself, losing disastrously to a low-ranked player. But I stuck on and slowly but steadily made inroads, and overcame the tough field to emerge a deserving champion!”
Allah made me a household name
So how did Yasin get through the tough times? “I have overcome hurdles in my game by only resorting to prayer,” he says.
“Even in the event above when I was almost down and out I prayed to Allah to just allow me to redeem my respect and honour and not to degrade myself in front of people. And he responded by giving me a thumping victory which made me a household name in snooker.”
He goes on: “Even during my matches when things are going badly for me I prefer to resort to prayers than anything else. And most times my prayers have been answered. Allah installs in me the courage to fight back and overpower my opponents.”
My father, my guide
But the roots of his success go back to his childhood. “The secret of my success has surely been my father’s belief in me. He has been my coach, my guide, my friend, my critic, my motivator.
“He was always around when I was playing my tournaments, be it big or small. Without him I would have achieved very little … in fact nothing at all. He taught me discipline which helped me stay focused on the snooker table and off it too. He taught me to fight when the odds were against me. He taught me to pray to the Almighty to ask for honour and redemption.”
Yasin’s mother then his wife also played their part. “And of course their prayers in the background laid the foundation for the success in my career. With so many people praying and asking for me, how could the Almighty not reward me?
Modesty and humanity
Yasin’s constant travel for his sport made community commitment difficult, but he has now become an active community member. “I realised what I had been missing out on. Community is really important to be able to contribute to the deserving people, not just financially but even guidance and moral support,” he says.
“I learned that interacting with my community made me a more humble person and taught me modesty and humanity. One needs the community to grow as a person, to share other people’s happiness and sorrows.
“I feel community allows you to get closer to the Almighty and in turn takes you towards good deeds and pulls you away from sins.”
Be nice, be grateful
Yasin has led a full life of incredible endeavour and success, complemented today by humility and a desire to give back. So what is his advice to the young generation?
“The only advice I would give to young players is to follow a disciplined lifestyle and do everything in moderation. Be humble, be nice, be grateful for what you have and don’t take anything for granted.
“Because things and situations change very quickly. I have always believed that it is nice to be important … but more important to be nice.”
A superb message for young Khojas!