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Is snooker a 'gentleman's game'? Vidya Pillai disagrees

Veteran Vidya Pillai countered the words of a chief guest at the 6-Red Snooker National Championship who termed the game as a "gentleman's game".

Vidya Pillai

Vidya Pillai


Rajdeep Saha

Updated: 12 Dec 2022 3:41 PM GMT

The 6-Red Snooker National Championships came to a close at Indore on Sunday night with pomp and show as snooker enthusiasts turned up in big numbers to cheer on their favourite cueists. However, a chief guests' words stood out.

"It was amazing. This is the first time I have seen the game being played professionally and with such enthusiasm. It is a gentleman's game, there's no doubt about it," Maharaj Shri Vikram Singh Pawar, President of board of Governors of Daly College, said.

This was the first bone of contention which one can pick out from his words. Throughout the remainder of his speech, he continued to re-iterate how snooker is a man's game. "I call it a gentleman's game not just how they dress or conduct themselves, but also how they strategise the game," he added.

The guest further commented on how the youth should play the sport at least once and that he would do everything in his power to take the game to greater heights. However, his comments which preceded these stuck out like sore thumbs.

Multiple-time national champion Vidya Pillai added another title to her cabinet after she beat Varsha Sanjeev 4-3 in the final. The Bridge spoke to the Indian No. 1 6-Red Snooker woman's player about her career and what it's like to be a woman in the supposed gentleman's game.

"It's not a gentleman's game. There are a lot of male-dominated sports where power is involved. Be it squash or cricket, the difference between the men's and women's game is significant. When you look at cue sports at large, what the men can play on the table, I think the women can do just as well," she said.

"Moreover, there's no age barrier in this game. In other sports, people are retiring in their early 30s. I'm 45 and I'm rearing to go. This is just the beginning," the veteran cueist said.

However, the Tamil Nadu local doesn't discount the hardships that come with being a woman in sports. "In other sports as well, women are suffering. We aren't just sportspeople, we are daughters, bahus (daughter-in-law), and so many other roles to play. When one is passionate about sports, one learns to balance both lives," she said.

From 2000, when Pillai, started putting the balls in the pockets on the snooker table, the game, and especially women in the game, have come far. "When I started playing, the gulf between the men and the women was huge. Now, we play competitive and quality snooker. Slowly, things are looking up," Pillai added.

She was quizzed on why Pankaj Advani and Vidya Pillai, two stalwarts of the same game, treated different in the country. The latter however disagrees on this front. "I don't see any difference. I must say that Pankaj is something else altogether. For all his achievements, I have never seen someone so humble and helpful. That's what makes him who he is,"she concluded.

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