Sandaka Simhachalam and Kalwala Venkatesham are taking part in the ongoing World Snooker Championship
Nothing can derail the commitment and unbridled passion of Sandaka Simhachalam and Kalwala Venkatesham – the two cueists from South Central Railway – who have made a mark at the ongoing World Snooker Championship in the City.
For the 49-year-old Simhachalam, who started playing since 1979 with a national best-ranking of No. 7 in 1995, is now achieving what he could not as a player – take part in the world championship as a qualified referee (the other one from the State being B. G. Benny). It is not that he is short of experience as he had already officiated in two World Billiards Championships and proudly recalls being the referee of the Geet Sethi-Pankaj Advani semi-final once. “It was the most memorable moment to see two of the finest players in action from such close quarters,” recalls Simhachalam of the Hyderabad Division.
How is the experience at the on-going World meet?
“It is unbelievable and the best ambience I had ever seen. Even the foreign players and referees are over-awed by the facilities provided to them,” says Simhachalam. Not surprisingly, this genteel cueist of yesteryear is now looking for the chance to officiate in some of the international events like the Asian Games. “I am grateful to Capt. P. V. K. Mohan (president of BSFI) for giving me this huge opportunity and I am just hoping I will officiate in the Asian Games too,” says Simhachalam who is now training I. Lahari, who finished India No.2 in the Sub-junior National snooker recently.
It is a different story with Venkatesham, who was once India's No. 2 in 2001. Unlike the big guns of Indian cue sports, this gentleman could not afford to train for hours in air-conditioned hall. It is an irony that he continues to be a junior clerk in the South Central Railway (SCR), being a National player for the last 23 years.
Venkatesham's best moment was when he qualified to represent India in the Dubai World pool championship in 2001 and again for the Singapore edition later which he eventually had to miss since the authorities failed to complete the formalities. Incidentally, he is the first cueist from the State to take part in any international event.
That this Railway cueist has the class is evident that he qualified as a wild-card entry for the knock-out phase in the Masters category in his very first world snooker championship now on in the City. “This is a dream come true. Like many other State players we would have achieved more if only there were better facilities in our formative days,” he moans. “I am planning to approach the GHMC to allot suitable space to start my own Academy which will help youngsters,” says the unobtrusive performer. motivation that keeps people like Simhachalam and Venkatesham going.