“The plan for this league was in the pipeline for the past three years. The main reason why it took so long for the league to happen is because getting sponsors was a big task for a Cue Slam League. But finally it is going to start and now even snooker players will be seen in every household just like cricketers and hockey players. The whole of India will now watch us, which will also include several aspiring players and their parents,” says an excited Malkeet.
Ask Malkeet if things have changed for him post his win at the Men’s Asian Team Snooker Championship and he blushes, “Well, yes ! I have received a lot of friend requests from girls on Facebook ever since I won the championship. I am loving this female attention. But jokes apart a lot of people in the state and in Lucknow not only know about me but also about the game now.
Malkeet, who played with Pankaj recently, says he got to learn a lot from his idol. “He is very disciplined related to his diet, his playing schedule, etc. I too am disciplined but sometimes I don’t follow a routine, which I have learnt to follow after meeting him. I have learnt a lot from Pankaj off and on the table. He also taught me a lot of tactics about the game,” he says.
However, Malkeet feels that youngsters in India still have a long way to go as far as taking this game seriously is concerned. “It is quite unfortunate that most youngsters who play snooker consider it timepass. Most of them who come to play these games in the parlours come there to smoke and drink. The seriousness towards the game is lacking. We don’t have a proper academy for budding cueists, there are only parlours where rarely some serious playing happens,” rues Malkeet, who goes on to add how his journey into this game started, “I started playing cue sports at the age of 11 at one of my relative’s house, who had a pool table. At that time I didn’t have a slightest idea that one day I will be reaching this far. My interest developed more so because my father also used to play. My uncle, who had this pool cafe, challenged me to first master my skill on this very small pool table in order to play on a professional table. This challenge changed my whole life. I worked really hard and finally played on a bigger table. It was him who motivated me to play professionally. I then played various tournaments in various clubs in the city, and then slowly moved to state and then now national level.”
Ask Malkeet, who has been ranked number 3 snooker player in India, on why we don’t get to see many youngsters pursuing this game and pat comes a reply, “There are very few snooker players in India. I mean you can count them on finger. So this is the reason no parent would like to push his or her child to get into this as there is no visible career into it. Thankfully, I landed my self a job in the Railways in the sports quota, where I am currently placed in Mumbai as a senior ticket examiner. Because of this my parents allowed me to pursue this passion, since I have a secured job. Else the journey would have been really difficult,” says he, adding, “While in India there is only one event for snooker players, the Indian Open, there is a lot of scope and money for us internationally. We Indians don’t like this game also because it is an indoor game which is not loud like cricket. Everyone needs to be quiet while watching the game. Also, if more is written about the game and its players then this will definitely help highlighting and promoting the game.”