Hossein Set To Become Iran’s First Snooker Pro

Hossein Vafaei Ayouri will make history next season as the first professional snooker player from Iran.

The talented 17-year-old from Abadan won the IBSF World Amateur Championship last December, which has earned him a place on the professional tour for the next two years. He will be eligible to compete in all ranking events, starting with the Wuxi Classic qualifiers in early June.

Hossein, who beat Welshman Lee Walker 10-9 in the World Amateur final, said: “It was the best feeling of my life. My father passed away last year and it was his dream for me to become a professional and world champion, which I achieved for him.

“I am very excited and determined to succeed on the pro circuit . I have played as a wild card in two ranking events in China and I can’t wait to play in the big tournaments.

“My target for the next two years is to win ranking tournaments and reach the top 16. I believe I can do this.”

Hossein, who will soon move to a practice base in the UK, added: “I am very proud to be the first Iranian pro and I hope I can do well to make my people happy. My Federation has supported me enormously and I hope I can do well to make them proud.

“Snooker is a very popular sport in Iran, second after football. We have over 1,000 clubs and many of the younger generation are attracted to the sport. The stars like Ronnie O’Sullivan are as famous in Iran as they are in the UK. We watch the World Snooker tournaments on the satellite channels. And our local television, with the efforts of our Federation and Ministry of Sport, are to beginning to show our national ranking tournaments, which I am sure will increase the number of snooker supporters.”

Hossein, who names John Higgins and Jimmy White as his snooker idols, first played snooker at the age of seven. “There was a club opposite my house and I was curious to see what it looked like inside,” he said. “One day I asked my father about the club and he held my hand and took me inside. From then on I fell in love snooker. I used to go to the club after school and even finished my homework there.”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “We’re absolutely delighted to see an Iranian player on the professional tour for the first time. Snooker is growing globally like never before and we are keen to see the sport develop in every country and for gifted players to come through. Hossein played extremely well to win the World Amateur title against a very strong field and he deserves his place on the tour.

“We have recently announced a new qualifying criteria for the main tour with more places allocated for international players. By providing more opportunities for countries where snooker is growing, we can accelerate the development of snooker worldwide.”