New Delhi: Cue sports ace Pankaj Advani says tournaments like the Billiards Premier League need to be encouraged and conducted at the national level to make the game popular.
Advani, who recently won his record 10th world title by clinching the World Team Billiards Championship, said that the initiative taken by the Billiards & Snooker Association of Maharashtra should be used as a starting point for something bigger.
"BPL is a good start. I haven`t had a chance to follow it too much. It`s good if it takes off on a national level, probably mixture of snooker and billiards would be ideal. I am sure there will be a few tournaments like these in the near future," Advani told PTI in an interview.
Many sports have adopted the IPL success formula from cricket, and are cashing in on with tournaments like the Pro Kabaddi League and the Hockey India League (HIL). Advani also opines that billiards will certainly find investors and sponsors to organise such events.
"I have heard a few people talk about it. There are a few interested people who want to organise such events. So it`s a good start and I hope that we will have tournaments like these at the national level and invite international player to play in it," said the Bengaluru cueist. Pankaj, who was over the moon after becoming the only sportsperson -- cue sport or any sport -- to pocket 10 world titles, praised his teammates -- Rupesh Shah, Ashok Shandilya, Devendra Joshi -- for the excellent showing in Glasgow.
"The team championship always adds an extra bit of pressure because you are not only playing for yourself but for your teammates. At the same time when you have mates like Rupesh Shah, Ashok Shandilya, Devendra Joshi, who are all very accomplished players themselves it is a brilliant combination," said Advani.
"They know what it takes to win a competition, because they have won many matches like that. So the camaraderie was great. This was my first World Team title and it`s great to win it alongside some of the greatest Indian billiards players we have had," he added.
For India it was double delight in Glasgow when the runner-up team was also from the country with cueists Alok Kumar, Sourav Kothari, Balachandra Bhaskar and Dhruv Sitwala, who is currently playing in BPL, getting silver. Advani said that though the gap between the two national teams and the rest of the participating nations was big, Indian billiards has certainly grown in leaps and bounds.
"We have always had a Billiards champion over the last so many years, right from Wilson Jones. In fact it`s also a reflection of the improving quality of game in India. I know we have so many players in the pool that any of our top-16 players can beat each other on a given day," said Advani.
Hailed as a child prodigy when he won his first world title at the age of 18 in China in 2003, Advani, 29, has come a long way to become India`s poster boy of cue sports. But now the world champion looks at the game beyond numbers.
"It obviously feels great. As a sportsperson over the years, when I started playing the game, I thought of becoming a world champion. And then I got my first world title, it was very very special feeling in China in 2003. I just didn`t know how far I will go in the sport. I just kept playing match after match, game after game and kept evolving as a player and winning," said Advani.
"Of course winning is very very important. Initially winning is all you want, because you want to prove yourself. But over a period of time I realised that it`s about the best you can possibly be. But now it`s not all about numbers and it`s about evolving. I am looking at improving with every game and every tournament I play," the cueist signed off.