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Pankaj Advani rues India's failure to make athletes the centre of sports policy

New Delhi: Ace billiards player Pankaj Advani feels India has still not reached a stage where athletes are the centre of focus in formulating a sports policy.

File photo of Pankaj Advani. AFP

File photo of Pankaj Advani. AFP

Advani on Wednesday met Union sports minister Vijay Goel to discuss certain issues pertaining to the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

"All I can tell you is that sportsperson has to be the centre of focus in sports policy and in India we have not reached that stage," Advani told PTI on Wednesday.

"Lot of times, athletes have to go after authorities and chase them whereas they should be left alone to concentrate on their game. There should be others to facilitate whether it's the federation or the SAI or the coaches. We are yet to reach that stage," the 16-time world champion said.

Asked about the issues related to SAI, which he discussed with the minister, Advani refused to divulge the specifics.

"There are a few things, which I would not like to discuss right now as they are sensitive. The sports minister has promised to help. I will still have to co-ordinate with his office and give them all the details so that things can be streamlined going ahead."

Advani also sought Goel's help in co-ordinating with Indian Olympic Association (IOA) so that there is a push for inclusion of the sport in the Olympics. Cue sport is a part of Asian Games.

"Here's a sport in which we are doing so well and we have medal prospects. We need to put an effort to include in quadrennial Games. Sports minister said that he will speak to IOA and write to them and follow up."

At 31, having achieved everything possible on the green baize, Advani still looks forward to each day as the passion to compete at the highest level has not diminished one bit.

"Definitely there are times when you feel complacent. There are times, I tell myself, what I have achieved is enough in life. Just take it easy," said Advani when asked what else is left for him.

But then there are enough reasons to feel motivated beyond statistics.

"I go back to the reason why I started playing the sport. It is because I loved playing it and I loved competing. It gives me a reason to look forward to something everyday.

"It's not about results, stats - just probably a simple fact that I want to go out there and express myself. Because it transports me to another world free of my worries," he put it eloquently.

So what's the new thing that he is imbibing after so many years at the top level?.

"It's not about how good you are on your good day but it's all about how good you are when you are not playing well. To win with your 'B', 'C' or 'D' game. That's what I want to master," said Advani.

"It's like answering a test paper when questions are not easy. Similarly in sport how you come out of it when you are in a spot of bother is what makes you a great player and a champion."

Sporting greatness, according to Advani, should be purely based on achievements.

"When it comes to sport and let it be purely based on achievements. There are sports which enjoy popularity and we are not against them. Certain events that get massive coverage like the Asian Games and the Olympics and I am not against them.

"But (the) fact is that every sportsperson works hard every day, every week of the year to be the best. If someone is achieving that position, obviously you guys know how to rate the achievement."


Published Date: May 11, 2017 11:57 AM | Updated Date: May 11, 2017 12:08 PM

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