Kolkata: The Indian cue sport fraternity today alleged the government of bias towards Olympic disciplines and sought clarity on their policies as far as getting rewards are concerned.
The issue has come to light in the wake of the ministry of sports' rejection of three Arjuna Award nominations from the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India allegedly because the sport does not figure in the Olympic and Asian Games' disciplines.
BSFI secretary S Balasubramaniam, who had written to the ministry of sports to reconsider their nominations, today said he's still waiting a response, as Indian top cueists Pankaj Advani and Sourav Kothari said the non-Olympic sport disciplines "are suffering" because of the discrimination.
Advani, who recently won his 13th World Championship crown, said by such disparity the cue sport fraternity was made to believe that the sports ministry was biased towards Olympics discipline. "I'm not only voicing my concern for cue sport fraternity.
My issue is much broader for all the sport disciplines who're not part of the Olympics or Asian Games," Advani told PTI from Bengaluru. Citing example of athletes who are part of the Olympic disciplines, Advani said: "The ministry have now brought some of them under TOP (Target Olympic Podium) scheme.
It's like if you produce your best in four years, you're set for life." "They had also cut the allocation for cue sport... This is being implied that they don't care about cue sport. We want to know, why the discrimination?" Advani asked.
Advani further gave examples of Asian billiards champion Sourav Kothari, and the women's duo of Vidya Pillai and Chitra Magimairaj, the trio whose Arjuna nominations were rejected recently. "Vidya has won 10 national titles, a world championship bronze, a World Cup team gold, what else you want her to achieve?" Advani asked.
Kothari is also pained that despite winning laurels for the country they're not duly acknowledged. "I remember the sports minister had sent a congratulatory message after we won the silver at the World Team Billiards Championship (in Scotland) and had written they would support us in best possible way," the medal winning India captain said.
"But when it comes to giving awards they just forget us. It makes us feel as if recognition like Arjuna is meant only for Olympic sports. This will cripple the sport," he lamented. BSFI secretary Balasubramaniam had brought up the issue writing to the sports ministry to reconsider the name of Kothari, two-time world ladies billiards and snooker champion Chitra and Vidya.
"They definitely deserve it. I'm still waiting for a response. I don't understand why every time we've to lobby for something, it's very sad but this is the way the sportpersons are treated in our country," Balasubramaniam said. Earlier, the government's annual sanction for the cue sport was reduced and the amount was raised after BSFI's protests.