Advani urges for more ranking tournaments in India
Kolkata: Eight-time world billiards champion Pankaj Advani on Monday said a IPL-style franchise tournament maybe the way to go but he strongly feels the sport needs to be televised to raise the profile of cue sport.
Urging the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India to organise more and more ranking tournaments like that of the recently-held Indian Open, Advani said: "The key would be to make it televised. That will make it popular here in India. It would make a huge difference and will improve the game in the country."
"It`s up to the snooker and billiards federation of India to take the sport to the masses. Maybe a franchise based tournament like IPL is a way to go forward, like combining the three games (snookers, billiards and pool) together. But I`m not 100 per cent sure...
"The key would be to organise more tournaments," he said on the sidelines of the Kolkata Open National Invitational Snooker Championship here.
Aditya Mehta had a fairy tale run in the Indian Open by becoming the first Indian ever to reach a final of a major ranking event in the capital in October. "He`s very talented. We never expected him to be so successful so early. He has achieved a lot in last five six years. He did well at the Indian Open. We never thought to make the ranking, quarters, semis," Advani said.
It was the biggest snooker tournament to be held in India which happened after BSFI`s three-year agreement with the World Snooker body.
Having turned pro in snooker, Advani still feels it`s billiards that`s his identity. "In fact, I made my first break in snooker having won a major tournament in snooker in China. I wanted to go the UK but did not get a wild card as I switched to billiards.
"I still maintain that billiards is my first love and like `wife` where as snooker has distracted me like a `mistress`. But at this stage, I`m happy to manage both."
"Looking at the progress in snooker, it`s heartening to see the pace that I`ve achieved at the highest level. I have to find a balance between the two. Currently, I am happy to pursue both."
Based in Sheffield, Advani further revealed his love for tennis and said Roger Federer is his sporting idol. "It has to be Roger Federer. His style, grace and play and the way he handles the pressure, popularity and fame is a perfect example of a great sports person. "It`s true that his performance is declining over the years as he`s showing signs of ageing and is not more strong as he was...
"But he will remain my inspiration for ever. There`s so much in him to look up to," Advani said. On his Indian idol, he named Sachin Tendulkar, Leander Paes and Viswanathan Anand. "As a child, I was a big fan of Tendulkar. I used to watch cricket only because of Tendulkar.
"He (Tendulkar) knew it was right for him to call it quits. It must have been very tough for him. It`s a huge loss for the team," he added.