Roped in for a fortnight by the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India to enhance the country’s medal chances in snooker at the November 12-27 Asian Games in Guangzhou, the 6’9” Englishman touched base in the City on Monday night and immediately swung into action, taking notes of all the camping cueists.
“I am extremely honoured to be in India,” Hill, widely known for a long and successful coaching stint with the legendary Ronnie O’Sullivan, said on Tuesday, the opening day of the Asiad camp. “I’ve heard that Ronnie won his first professional title here in Bangalore.
This facility is really tremendous and fantastic. I can easily say it is second to none. In fact, I am contemplating suggesting to a few players in England to come and train here.
“However, my main focus, apart from grooming the squad for the Asiad, would be to coach the coaches. I am really looking forward to working with Manoj (Kothari) and Sanjay (Sawant) -- the billiards and snooker coaches respectively. In the next fortnight, I am looking at setting up a base on the ‘Way to play’ for the youngsters and veterans.
“Of course, two weeks is too short a time for me to pull off something phenomenal, but at least a start can be made. And if things go well and my stay here is extended beyond the Asiad, then a few players can be identified to take the game to the masses and make it popular. India has the potential and is waiting to explode,” said Hill, the only non-professional to have been named Honorary Coach by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.
Asked if he had seen any of the Indian players in action, Hill said: “Pankaj (Advani) is a great player while Brijesh (Damani) has fine potting skills. Among the ladies, I am impressed with Chitra (Magimairaj). As I said earlier, the facilities here are world-class. I have travelled to so many countries and I am extremely impressed with the stuff here.
It’s upto the players to make the best use of it.” Reiterating that two weeks was too short a period, Hill went on, “Yes, the time is very limited. I’ve got just four days with Pankaj as he is leaving to compete in the October 27-31 World Professional Billiards Championship at Leeds. But I am a firm a believer in ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
“If Pankaj feels he needs any advice, I shall share my expertise. He is a multiple world champion. I am looking forward to working with the women and the remaining members of the men’s snooker squad. I am sure they will benefit in the long run too,” added the gentle giant.
Cue-sport campers for Asian Games:
Men: Pankaj Advani, Geet Sethi, Aditya Mehta, Brijesh Damani, Yasin Merchant, Sumit Talwar, Alok Kumar, Manan Chandra, Dharminder Lily, Vijay Goel.
Women: Vidya Pillai, Chitra Magimairaj, Anuja Chandra, Indira Gowda, Neeta Sanghvi, Meenal Thakur, Neena Praveen.
Coaches: Del Hill and Sanjay Sawant (snooker), Jorge C Dacer and Mukesh Rehani (pool), Manoj Kothari (billiards).