Features Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 05:30
Siddharth Mohan Nair |The News Minute |September 18, 2014, |6.37 pm IST "Mike Russel, the eleven time world billiards champion, is my inspiration," says Venkateswaran Subramanian, a billiards player from Dadar. Subramaniam who has won many championships is blind in one eye and lost his leg to a polio attack. A Tamilian born and brought up in Dadar, Subramaniam had lost his right leg in a polio attack when he was only two years old. At the age of six he lost his right eye in an accident. But this did not snatch the chunk of fun from his teenage,he says. He joined the Matunga Gymkhana in Mumbai and started playing table tennis. Not only did he begin paying a game which required sharp vision and quick responses but, he went on to play it in the national level (juniors). However, he soon switched over from table tennis to billiards. "It was not because I found playing the game difficult that I switched," says Subramaniam. "In most sports complexes billiards and table tennis tables were adjacent and the billiards room was always air conditioned. When my friends and I got tired after playing table tennis we went to the billiards room for rest." It was the cool temperature inside that attracted Subramaniam towards the billiards room, but the game soon became part of life. The game had a lot in store for him. He went on to become a juniors champion in the Maharashtra state and number three in the national level. He also went on to represent India twice in the world championships and once in the Australian Open. However, he still says that he plays only because he likes the game. "I do not want to make a career out of this," he says. "I was the third best player in India and by that virtue I could have either got employed in the Maharashtra state government as an Upper Division Clerk or in the central government with a job in the Railways. But, I did not want to quit playing professionally by taking up such government jobs." To earn money he takes tuition for college-going Accountancy students. By taking tuitions he does not earn as much as he can to play world championships. In the past he had written to many corporates seeking financial help but to no avail. "I had thought that corporates would help me because they can get good social mileage out of this but, sadly, nothing worked out," he says. He had even written to the Maharashtra state government and the Union Sports Ministry. "I did not even receive a reply for my mails. It is then that I realized that only by sharing my story in some public relation platform I would receive any help." The 2014 World Billiards Championship is in Leeds, UK starting from the 17th of October. By the virtue of his disability he has got a direct entry to this championship but, his financial resources are insufficient. Earlier, in 2012, when he had to attend the world championship he had received financial assistance from the Billiards Association of Maharashtra and also from a Pune based business man Manish Sabde. The billiards associations, unlike cricket, are under-funded. “The associations can’t help me,” he says. This time around he has taken to a crowd funding website, Ketto, to get financial assistance. In his page in Ketto he says that he will require Rs. 1,50,000 to cover his expenses. He has already received Rs. 39,400. “I am happy with the amount that I have received so far. It is a good thing,” he says.    He says that he does not want to get aid from his individuals because it would be a burden on them. “I wish organizations come forward offering help so that along with my being helped, they can also get a social mileage.” Read: Nepal becomes the first country to introduce injectable polio vaccine under the Gavi Alliance