BENGALURU: The Covid-19 pandemic
may have forced the cancellation of the International Billiards and Snooker
Federation (IBSF) events this year, even robbed Pankaj Advani
of accumulating more world titles, but it can’t stop the multiple world champion from playing the sport that he is passionate about.
“I love playing the game. When I get on to the table and strike the ball, looking at the point of contact and what I need to do with the white ball, that’s all that I am really thinking of,” Advani, 35, told TOI recently.
“Actually, I am transported to a different world while playing snooker and billiards. Nothing else really matters to me at that point of time. That for me is motivation enough to go out there and practice. I don’t really need a tournament right now,” added the owner of 23 World titles in both billiards and snooker.
Although most disciplines are slowly returning to action, the IBSF recently decided to call off all events scheduled for the season because of the spike in Covid-19 cases.
“It is unfortunate that there will be no international events this year – all formats of cue sports
. But I can also understand why the IBSF has taken such a decision. Hopefully, they will organise events when times are better and cases are on the decline or when we can find a vaccine or a cure,” said the Bengalurean, who has won at least one or two world titles every year since his return from the pro snooker tour in 2014.
World Snooker, however, did organise the World Championship and other pro events in a bio-secure bubble. Advani reasoned that they were able to pull it off because it didn’t involve international travel. “The reason why they have been able to do events is because all snooker players are based in England and they don’t really have to take flights. But there are a lot of logistical problems with hosting IBSF events, especially when it involves international travel,” he noted.
Although happy that sport is making a comeback amid the pandemic, the multiple world champion felt there were more urgent matters to contend with at the moment. “It is good that international sport is happening, but at the same time, sport without spectators is not the same. But I feel that we have something bigger to tackle right now. Leave aside sport and other creative professions, we are dealing with health, safety, survival and most importantly our economy. These issues need to be addressed first,” he said and added that he doesn’t mind sport taking a back seat this year.
“Of course, I do miss competing and travelling a lot, but health, more than anything, comes first. This virus is not about yourself, we are thinking of the community, society in general, and our loved ones. I feel we owe it to our fellow human beings to exercise restraint, take precautions, and see that it doesn’t spread further,” said the reigning world billiards and world team snooker champion.
“Sometimes it is better to take a step back, concentrate on the other things in life. There are more things to life than our sporting careers. I am happy to sit it out this year, even if it means not winning an international title or even playing abroad. I will value it even more the next time I go out and play and represent my country in a World Championship. I will be even more passionate and excited about just participating, forget about winning or losing,” explained the champion cueist.
At the same time, Advani feels one needs to try and adapt to the new normal. “I feel like at some stage we have to learn to live with this. We can’t stop living. We can’t just sit at home and do nothing about it and hope that the vaccine or cure will come and start working. We need to keep ourselves active, obviously with precaution,” said Advani.
With international events some months away, Advani said his focus now would be on fitness. “I have been practising on and off but my physical fitness is something I have not worked on too much and I think that’s what I am going to do. I know we have got about five-six months left before the next tournament is announced. More than the technical part, I would concentrate on physical fitness. Probably closer to the tournament, I will be more in touch with the game, in terms of technical training,” he signed off.