India Sports

Arjuna Awardees in Billiards

Billiards, a game that was popular with the affluent class, was introduced in India in 1920, through the sheer endeavor of Mr. M. M. Begg. Mr. Begg was not only a character actor of his time, but also represented the country in many international events. He had an instrumental role in the establishment of the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) in 1926. The BSFI was instituted in Kolkata and since then Kolkata has primarily been a centre of activities of BSFI. Similar to the other popular global sports, billiards had to struggle to survive in India, as many of the Indians literally worship cricket and hockey.

Despite its not so enthusiastic start, billiards in India acquired a high level of quality and produced some world class players. The efforts of BSFI resulted into an impressive victory of an Indian, Wilson Jones in 1958 in the World Amateur Billiards Championship in Kolkata. Players of the like of Geet Sethi and Michael Ferreira have consistently won at the international events since then. Recently billiards has seen new heights as Pankaj Advani has won the world championship twice and there are a lot of younger talents yet to make their mark in the international arena.

Despite our huge success in the game of billiards, we are still not able to popularize the game among the masses. That is the reason the international victories of Indian players in billiards do not create waves among the masses in India and normal Indians still consider it to be a game of elite class. This is one reason why the BSFI is yet to make additional efforts to provide the game the much needed recognition among the masses. BSFI has setup various training and sponsorship camps in many states of India to pick and train the young talents in this game. But the success of sportsmen like Geet Sethi and Michael Ferreira at the international events has encouraged the state billiards associations to work hard to nurture a vast pool of talents available in India.

In this whole process Karnataka State Billiards Association (KSBA) took the lead and started organizing various competitions in the State of Karnataka for the international championships. The association is also running coaching camps for the aspiring talents of billiards. The KSBA has added a feather in its cap for providing the world class facilities and amazing infrastructure for the game of billiards. The BSFI wants the other states to follow suit and follow KSBA to promote billiards across the length and width of India. The strategy has started working and billiards has become popular in many parts of India and has been steadily growing for the last couple of years.

Similar to the game of chess, India is a powerhouse of billiards, too. But the common perception is that the game of billiards is just meant for elite and affluent class, this notion needs to be broken in order to change the mindset of our youth to try and make a career in billiards and snooker. As discussed earlier, it is not a game, which is genetically not suitable for Indians such as tennis, swimming, gymnastics and football. Whereas football and swimming demand a great energy level, gymnastics need a lot of flexibility. But, on the contrary, billiards is a game of wits, accuracy and focus and Indians are found to be very good at all these skills.

Here is a list of some Arjuna awardees in billiards in chronological order.

YearNames of Arjuna Award Recipients
1973Michael Ferreira
1983Subhash Agarwal
1986Geet Sethi
2002Alok Kumar
2003Pankaj Advani
2005Anuja Prakash Thakur
2012Aditya S. Mehta

Last Updated on 09/12/2012