“Billiards and snooker are not expensive compared to other sports”

Billiards and snooker player Pankaj Adavani, who had participated in the Bengal Premier League last month, spoke to the media on the sidelines of his matches in Kolkata.Souvik Ghosh brings excerpts.
Tell us about your journey
I started this game at the age of 10. Like any other kid, I used to play basketball, cricket, and badminton after school. When I took up this sport, it was a different level of obsession. The journey has been wonderful despite the many ups and downs which every athlete faces.
Patience and perseverance play a massive role in billiards. What is your mantra to deal with the pressure?
I wish I had a mantra, then I would have been invincible. But that’s not the case. One has to go through his/her own journey and learnings to come out as a better player and a person. Sports, I think, teach one not only to be disciplined but also to be a better human being. The meaning of sport is to have fair play and sportsmanship and that’s what my major learning has been besides the technical skills.
Sports teach us a lot of life lessons so I think that’s possibly the way I have looked at it. To deal with the pressure, I just tell myself that any game is not the end of the world.
Coaching plays a massive role in making a player. Tell us about your coaching days. What would you like to tell the newcomers?
I feel there is no dearth of coaches in India. We have some amazing coaches. There are some amazing coaches in Bangalore, West Bengal, Mumbai, Delhi and all over the country. I am still competitive and an active player. I just feel nowadays so many things can be learnt online but of course if it’s a skill that needs to be picked up, then he/she needs one-on-one training. This is a very technical game which is very difficult to pick up initially but once the basics are learnt, there is no limit to one’s improvement.
Are billiards and snookers very costly games?
Not really. People have this wrong conception that these are games for rich people. There are sports which are far more expensive and need sponsorships to travel to different countries and play. I think billiards and snooker are relatively cheaper except the table which costs Rs. 2.5-3 lakhs minimum but that’s also provided by the clubs.
The only thing one needs to invest in is the cue stick which is not that expensive as compared to other sports. The general perception that billiards and snooker are expensive is untrue. Most of us came from middle class backgrounds and achieved for the country.
While cricket is the most celebrated sport in our country, what is the scope of billiards you see now?
That question has to be asked to the federation really. I am just a player. I just play my game. Whatever the tournaments and competitions are, it is well and good if I get selected. I only work harder if I don’t get selected. (TWF)