Business Standard

Advani favours having franchise-based televised league in India


Press Trust of India Mumbai
India had hosted "Cue Slam" -- a franchise-based league in 2017 and ace cueist Pankaj Advani believes a similar televised league would help in the growth of snooker and billiards in the country.
"See for any sport to become popular it has to be televised," said Advani, a 21-time World Champion, when asked whether there was a lack of knowledge about the game among the common people and that affected its popularity.
"There has to be enough opportunity for players to make a living out of it and to have sort of tournaments at big venues where people are invited to attend and witness sport at the highest level.
"But the main thing -- the need of the hour is to have a (franchise-based) league, which is televised and that is where I feel you (the media) should be asking this question to (BSFI Secretary Devendra) Joshi...".
The inaugural edition of the league -- Cue Slam -- took place in 2017, but since then it has not taken place.
"You need to ask them (the BSFI) what happened (about it). I want to see the sport grow, which is why I am doing something with a friend in Bengaluru where I am taking the game to the schools," he added.
Quizzed whether there is enough talent to form teams for such a league, Advani answered in the affirmative.
"I think it is possible. If you have eight teams of five players each, it can be done. Let's not forget, if we are doing a league, we are not going to have only Indian players but foreign players and then the quality automatically goes up. We have that many number of players to have 8 good teams," he said.
About the league that happened in 2017, Advani said the initiative was good but the format could have been different.
He also said a lot of snooker and billiards players want to have an Indian tour and a suggestion in this regard has been made to the national federation.
Advani once again urged the Sports Ministry to encourage sports which are not part of quadrennial Games such as Asian Games or Olympics.
"The point is now the way sport is perceived has also changed over the years. I feel that because we are not part of any quadrennial event like the Asian Games or Olympics, it is also being perceived differently," he said.
"We are working as hard as every other athlete in the country (but) because we are not in quadrennial events, we are not looked at that very seriously compared to those sports that are part of Olympics or quadrennial events and that is something the Sports Ministry will need to look at and review."

He said he had a chat with BSFI Secretary and the only way going forward was to meet sports minister Kiren Rijiju.
"They can help by increasing funding, doing programme for juniors... even the incentives, trips for which we are cleared...there is a lot that can be done and we can convince the sports minister to do so...," he said.
Advani next will be playing the 150 Up World Billiards Championship, World 6 Reds and Team Snooker Championship 2019 which begins from September 9 in Myanmar and was optimistic of doing well in all the three formats.

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First Published: Aug 30 2019 | 4:50 PM IST

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