It took years to finally declare an equal prize money for both male and female winners of the Wimbledon championship. But there still exists a high pay gap in sport. It’s even more pronounced in Indian sports like snooker and billiards, that don’t enjoy popular support. In which case, it becomes even more precarious to speak out against the hypocrisy in paying practices.
But speak out cuesport champions Keerath Bhandaal and Suniti Damani did, and did it well. They come out with their disdain for the pay gap in the prize money given to male and female players calling the disparity “disgusting”.
“We are still very much on our own despite playing for India for so many years. I won a national title earlier this year and all I got was Rs 5000. It is disgraceful to say the least,” says Bhandaal in a report.
She only received Rs. 10,000 as prize money for winning the senior billiards title last year in comparison to the male champions who have received prize money upto Rs. 50,000 in the past. Damani has won the national pool title in the year 2012 while Bhandaal has national titles in both billiards and snooker under her belt.
In the report, Damani says, “I have taken a break from my job to come here and practice. Despite being the leading player in the country for so many years, I still have to fend for myself. I still feel I am treated like a beginner. It is disheartening to be honest. There has to be a system where top 8 players of the country don’t have to worry about anything other than the game. It surely seems a far cry at the moment.”
Even 2013 World Women’s Snooker Champion Vidya Pillai calls out the Sports Ministry on this issue in a report. She says, “We don’t even get paid properly by the Central government, yes the Karnataka Billiards Association has been doing a lot for us, but when it comes to acknowledgement, there is hardly any from the Sports Ministry.”