Qasim Zubair always knew he wanted to play cricket. From watching his brother play with his friends to imitating the moves of renowned cricket players Glenn McGrath, Wasim Akram and Brett Lee, Zubair fine-tuned his skills and made his way onto the UAE national cricket team.

His journey

Despite his youth age, Zubair has taken part in many events that athletes his age only dream of. From a young age Zubair grew to love the sport at playing at home and then at university, local, regional and international games.

"I joined the Insportz Cricket Academy, Dubai, at age 13. I later joined Emirates Cricket Training and was coached by Pakistan Test cricketer Tauseef Ahmad and UAE cricketer Shehzad Altaf," Zubair said.

He began playing in school matches and was selected for the under-15 UAE national team to play in the under-15 Asia Cup.

At university, Zubair was part of a group that founded the Heriot-Watt Cricket Club. "We didn't have players at first but by the third year we were participating in and winning inter-collegiate tournaments.

Zubair was also part of the victorious UAE national team in the Asian Cricket Council Trophy tournament in Malaysia in 2006.

"After that, I also playedfor the under-17 UAE cricket team, which went to Switzerland and India. Then I played in the under-19 Youth Asia Cup in Karachi and Nepal," said Zubair.

Class topper

Zubair, however, did not neglect his studies. During his first year at university, he won the Best Student Award. "I used to play cricket in the evening and attend all my classes and dedicate more time to studying before my exams," he said.

It was difficult when exams clashed with tournaments, forcing Zubair to miss some matches.

"My parents always encouraged me to play cricket; they knew I could balance it well with studies," he said.

The Blues Award

To honour him for his contribution to the university's sports life, Heriot-Watt granted Zubair the Blues Award.

He will be the first student from the university's Dubai campus to be presented with the award during a ceremony in November at the university's main campus in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The award is presented to students who excel in sports and who demonstrate unparalleled passion and commitment to sports while achieving consistent and exceptional performance throughout the season.

Earlier in the year, Zubair was awarded the Best All-rounder award and the Best Batsmen Award during an inter-college cricket tournament organised by the Dubai Cricket Council.

Future plans

Having just completed his undergraduate degree, Zubair is on the lookout for a job in a multi-national bank. He hopes to eventually obtain a higher degree in his field.

"If I play cricket, it's difficult to make time for practice and after work hours. My priority is work and not cricket," he said.

A career in sports?

For Zubair, cricket would always remain a hobby as there are not many scholarship and sponsorship opportunities for athletes here, he said.

He told Notes, "I'm not thinking of cricket from a career point of view. I doubt I'll be playing much in the future as I will be employed. It makes me sad, but I expected this to happen. There's no money in this game in Dubai."

Fast facts

Name: Qasim Zubair
A graduate of: Heriot-Watt University
Plays for: UAE national cricket team
Age: 21
Sport: Cricket
Position: All rounder
Major: Finance and Accounts
Nationality: Pakistani
Residence: Dubai