India should take a leaf out of the Chinese method

Saba Nayakan  Kolkata | Updated on October 20, 2013


When Ding Junhui of China blanked India’s Aditya Mehta 5-0 in the final of the inaugural £300,000 Indian Open snooker tournament in Delhi last week, the Indian cue sport fraternity was more than happy for Mehta as the Indian scaled a new height in his career.

The world-ranking event attracted one of the finest-ever fields in India with many former world champions and present day exciting talents crowding the draw. At the end of it all, the title was contested by two Asians with Ding winning his second crown of the year, the previous being the Shanghai Masters.

Mehta went beyond the quarterfinals stage for the first time in five years and this speaks volumes of his dedication, hard work and resilience. The 27-year-old Indian is the best in snooker in the country; he, along with Pankaj Advani, will surely strive hard to bring laurels to the country.

The city saw a precocious 15-year-old Ding displaying his prowess in winning the Asian under-21 snooker tournament at the Calcutta Swimming Club in 2002.

The championship had four best Indian entries in Manan Chandra, Pankaj Advani, Saurav Kothari and Mudit Poddar. None of the Indians could stop Ding from winning the title. Even today, the differences between the Chinese and the Indians remain. Ding turned professional at the age of 16 and in a ten years rose to No. 4 in the world. He has eight world-ranking titles to his credit and is ready to win his maiden world crown.

Cue revolution

According to Michael Ferreira, former national coach, the cue sport revolution began in China much after India made a mark in this sport.

The country imported 100 best tables and copied it to produce 10,000 tables of its own and began the sport at the school-level. Today, snooker is one of the most-popular sports in China, and Ding is the most easily recognisable face in that country. The same cannot be said about Advani or Mehta’s popularity in India.

China made rapid strides in snooker. When it was taking baby steps, India was a world power in billiards, having produced a number of world champions. Snooker remained a distant second to billiards in India. It is only recently snooker and pool games are gaining public acceptance.

The cut sport is largely being encouraged by various clubs in cities and towns in India.

It is yet to make it to schools in a big way. India offers everything to a senior player but a junior or an upcoming youngster finds it hard to make it as a top-notch player due to the lack of exposure to high-calibre tournaments.

The best tournaments are played outside India and young players need to be exposed to such meets to hone their skills.

The Billiards and Snooker Federation of India can guide these young players and the Government too has a meaningful role to play.


Published on October 20, 2013

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