‘Onus on Federation to Popularise Cue Sports,’ Says Pankaj Advani
Winner of 23 world titles, Pankaj Advani, talks about life in lockdown and why federation needs promote cue sports.
Pankaj Advani, with 23 world titles in billiards and snooker to his name, is on his longest break from the table due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that has brought the world to a standstill since March.
"The last tournament I participated in ended in the second week of March. In fact, I remember returning to Bengaluru on 12 March and after that I haven’t played a tournament since. Nobody has. For now, we have to live with what we have. For billiards and snooker, we know that there are no tournaments until the end of the year," the 35-year-old told The Quint.
Apart from 14 world billiards titles, three world snooker titles, four professional billiards titles and an Asian title to his name, Advani has also won the Grand Slam in both billiards and snooker.
‘Federation Needs to Step Up’
However, despite winning almost everything he possibly can in his chosen sport, it could be said that Advani isn't one of the most well known Indian sports legends.
The onus of making his sport more visible, however, he so feels, should be on the Federation.
"I do believe that things could get better but I also do believe that this is where the Federations also needs to step up. If cricket is popular, it is because of the efforts of BCCI over the last 2-3 decades. It’s not like snooker and billiards is not known, a lot of youngsters love to play the sport. It’s just about figuring out how to attract them, what kind of product we want to package and position it in a way that it attracts many eyeballs. But, if you don’t make the effort, then whoever achieves whatever in the sport, they will not get that kind of visibility and attention," said the Khel Ratna awardee.
He also says that there is a need to appreciate non-Olympic sports in the country as well.
“We need to start appreciating non-Olympic sports. It’s not just about Olympic sports and cricket. We are very focussed on the Olympics, which I think is a good thing. I do believe the Olympics are a massive event but I also feel that it is not the be-all of Indian sports.”
Advani is also part of an interview series hosted by Indian squash star Saurav Ghosal with legends like Abhinav Bindra and Viswanathan Anand also featuring in a chat about some of the biggest matches of their lives.
About the show with Saurav, he said, "It’s an honour to be part of that list (of guests on the show). I have known Saurav for a while, he’s a great squash player and what I enjoyed most about it was that he went into depth about certain matches that I played while achieving the Grand Double (winning the IBSF world snooker and billiards championships), it was the first time it had ever happened in the history about the sport.”
"It’s great to talk about the mindset because a fellow athlete knows what you’re going through. The gamut of emotions you experience while competing at the highest level," he said, while talking about the interview that will go on air on Friday, 10 September.
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