Billiards legend Geet Sethi wants more Indians to embrace sport

His clarion call is hard to ignore. Not just because it is powerful but also because it resonates the very essence of all sport, joy. Nine-time world cue sports champion Geet Sethi encourages Indians to take to any sport to enjoy it rather than with the intention of reaping some reward or emulating someone else or to learn lessons.

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“What happens is more than learning lessons, sport in the early stages is about living a particular lifestyle. Controlling diet. Exercising,” he told Zevenworld.com. “Not interacting too much with the outside world is another key facet of those who want to become the best they can be. The process of being a sports person makes you into a particular kind of human being of habits. There are some learnings but, however powerful, I may not be able to implement it at the office desk.

“Of course, we constantly fail in sport. And we succeed, too. It is similar in business. The act of starting a business was not to make a profit. It was to address a particular need of a couple of people. There was no great thought, no planning. The losses in the initial years didn’t not bother me. The profit didn’t either,” Geet Sethi recalled.

“Sport teaches you to have equilibrium. Not to get hassled with panic situations. A sports person who controls his mind will not typically panic in any situation,” he said, bringing the focus back on why more Indians must take to playing sport at any level. He does have a word of caution for those aspiring to play competitive sport.

“I tell young people setting off to play to spend two weeks alone, introspect and be brutally honest with themselves. You have to ask yourself why you want to play sport? That question is of massive importance. Many times the answer is ‘I want to be a Sachin Tendulkar’ or ‘I want to win an Arjuna Award’. I do not know what to say then,” he conceded.

Having not picked up the billiards cue for some time now, the 54-year-old is much more than a casual onlooker. Over the last decade, Geet Sethi and Prakash Padukone’s dream, Olympic Gold Quest (OGC) has taken wings, with other aces like chess wizard Viswanathan Anand, tennis legend Leander Paes and former National table tennis champion Niraj Bajaj joining the movement.

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The not-for-profit foundation has helped over 100 athletes with critical inputs.

“It is a no-brainer to say that more Indians should embrace sport. A nation in which the majority plays some sport or the other will be a healthier nation but also have strong character,” Geet Sethi said. “The nature of sports – competitive or recreation – necessarily brings about that. You will get to know yourself better when playing sport.

“At OGQ, we complement the massive amount of money that Government is spending on the athletes,” Geet Sethi said. “Speed of delivery combined with emotion of wanting the athlete do well. It works wonders. I am happily convinced that we are doing the right things. We are on a path where we will double our medal count at each Olympic Games.”

When he was growing up, it was hard to idolise someone from his sport. “In today’s socio-eco system, we need role models. A Sachin Tendulkar, an Abhinav Bindra, a Mary Kom, a Ronaldo… You also meet people from different fields. Some years ago, when distractive mobile technology came into play, I succumbed too, though I realised that it was not important for me,” he said.

“The persons who inspired me were actor Tom Alter and the celebrated National Institute of Design Prof MP Ranjan. These were the only ones who I knew who had neither a cell phone nor a car,” he said. “It is only after I started playing billiards seriously that I discovered the likes of Michael Ferreira, Satish Mohan, Arvind Savur and Steve Davis. Their deeds started inspiring me.

“My own inspiration was the billiards table. I played a variety of sport – football, cricket, volleyball, hockey, basketball, table tennis, badminton and swimming – I became a State level swimmer. We were not allowed into the billiards room in the club. I was 10 or 11 when I saw the table – peered at the light, the billiards and snooker balls – and just wanted to get a clue and play. I was in ecstasy when I potted a ball for the first time. Sport gives you that ecstasy.”