Coleraine Rugby Club quite rightly celebrates having players with Ulster and Irish honours - and now it is proud to add international honours representing Pakistan to that record.
Mo Akbar was born and bred in Coleraine and started his rugby career playing for Coleraine Under 16s.
He developed quickly and went on to represent a number of clubs in London and Lahore before being selected for the Pakistan 7-a-side team earlier this year.
Now 25, Mo went to the Irish Society and then St Joseph’s in Coleraine before leaving for the University of East London where he studied for a BSc in Business Management.
While there he played for Barking Rugby Club and the University.
After graduation, Mo went to Lahore in Pakistan last year, studying for an MBA at UMT University, and he again spent his free time playing rugby for the University and a local club.
Mo takes up the story: “While I was playing in Lahore I was approached by the coach of the Pakistan National seven-a-side team and invited to the training camp.
“It was an intensive two-month process and in the end I was selected for the squad.
“In February this year I travelled with team to the Asia Rugby Development Sevens Series 2016 at Al Ain in Dubai.
“The teams were from across Asia and we played in a group including Lebanon, Thailand and Qatar. Although we did quite well, unfortunately we didn’t make it through from the group stages.
“Overall, the experience was brilliant. There were a lot of phenomenal players there and I learnt a lot from the tournament.”
It was a great achievement for the young Coleraine man. He said: “I am very proud that I had the honour of representing Pakistan at an international level.
“It was a great opportunity and I am very glad I was able to take part.
“On top of all that my parents were very proud.
“They are originally from Pakistan and because of that I have dual nationality. It meant a lot to them.”
Mo has now returned to Coleraine and is playing for his home club again, this time at senior level.
He said: “I usually play in the centre, No 12, but for the sevens I was a prop. It was very strange to be in a three-man scrum. It took some getting used to.
“Now I’m back home and it’s great to be playing at Coleraine again.
“I’m playing with the Seconds at the moment and things have been going well so far this season. We hope that continues throughout the year.”
Now the club are hoping that the skills Mo picked up in Dubai and Pakistan will provide an extra boost for Coleraine.
If you are interested in playing rugby, as a newcomer or with experience, contact the club. New members are always welcome. Senior training is Tuesday and Thursday, 7.00pm, just call down and speak to the coaches.