Today marks not only what will (hopefully) be the last Monday of India’s national lockdown, but also the creation of a sport that truly captures the spirit of ‘Made in India’. It was on May 11, 1875 – 145 years ago – when Neville Chamberlain (a British Indian army officer, and not the former British PM), formulated a set of rules that combined pyramid and black pool, while stationed in Ooty, Tamil Nadu.
A cue sport that quickly rose in popularity among the ranks of the then British Indian army, and then the wider public, we know it today as Snooker, named after an even older military term for an inexperienced first-year officer.
The Indian Business Group (IBG), a London-based strategy business advisory consultancy, which helps a variety of organisations reach new markets, has tied up with World Snooker Tour (WST) – a circuit of snooker tournaments organised by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) – to revitalise interest in the sport in its country of origin. While market research shows that the cue sport has a significant following across India, irrespective of geographic demarcations, IBG and WST hope to take things to the next level.
When IBG CEO and thought leader on Indian-British businesses Amarjit Singh visited India last year along with WST’s Commercial Director Miles Pearce (following the tying up of the two organisations) to explore the Indian market, they found “the sky is the limit.”
Singh elaborates, "Given the historical legacy of Snooker, which was ‘Made in India’, and the demographics of the country, one of the youngest nations in the world, we hope to engage with rural and urban India, and encourage interest in the sport from a grass-root level up. Our ambition is to create a golden age of Snooker within India."
IBG’s goal is to find more Indian players to compete and rank in the World Snooker Tour, as well as increase the interest and engagement of Indians with the sport. “The ultimate goal would be to identify a city in the country and establish a Snooker academy that would serve as a hub for current and future players and coaches from around India, and the world,” adds Singh.
To further the cause, WST will celebrate #145YearsOfSnooker from May 11-15. “In the coming week, WST’s digital channels will showcase significant milestones in the history of the sport as well as some of its most glorious moments, including classic matches. There will also be interviews with both Indian and foreign players, past and present,” says Singh.
IBG is chaired by Lord Kamlesh Kumar Patel, Baron Patel of Bradford, a life peer of the House of Lords and life-long advocate of mental as well as physical health in the UK, who said in a statement, "I am humbled and proud to be associated with this initiative because, as someone who champions mental well-being, I know just taking a few moments, an hour a day, to forget about the challenges we're currently facing (in this pandemic), will strengthen our resilience and resolve. What WST is doing enables us to do just that. We can use technology to meet virtually and watch all those glorious moments, truly getting excited, reliving wonderful memories of triumphant moments."
So, take a break and cue up your sporting entertainment for the week. It’s home away from home, after all.