In recent months many readers will have spotted the #Cue4All hashtag across the many growing WPBSA social media platforms.
Whether you aspire to become the next Ronnie O’Sullivan and compete on the World Snooker Tour, or simply wish to have a recreational game at your local club to unwind after a long day at work, at the WPBSA we firmly believe that snooker is a sport that can be enjoyed by all.
As snooker’s world governing body we are committed to providing opportunities for people of all backgrounds to participate in snooker through our subsidiary companies and increasing portfolio of sport development initiatives.
Amateur snooker has seen a significant boost over the past 12 months through the launch of the World Snooker Challenge Tour and back in March, the first staging of the WSF Championships by the World Snooker Federation (WSF).
An international federation for snooker based in Lausanne, the WSF is represented by national and regional federations from across the globe and promotes good governance in the amateur game.
Through both main tour cards and qualification routes to prestigious international tournaments such as the World Championship and the 6-Red World Championship, the WSF now plays a key role in providing a pathway for amateurs to compete on the professional circuit.
The WPBSA and WSF firmly believe that there should be no boundaries to participation in snooker and that there is no reason why women players cannot compete at the same level as men.
At this year’s WSF Championships in Malta, women stars including Reanne Evans, Nutcharut Wongharuthai and Rebecca Kenna had the opportunity to fight for a professional tour card in the prestigious new mixed gender competition.
Over the past 12 months, both Evans and current world no.1 Ng On Yee of Hong Kong have also competed at the professional World Championship qualifiers, with Evans notably becoming the first woman to win a match at the tournament by defeating top 64 player Robin Hull in 2017.
In addition to providing mixed gender competition, to encourage participation in snooker among women we are also responsible for the development of the World Women’s Snooker Tour through our subsidiary company World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS).
An international tour with its own ranking system and new events scheduled to take place later this year in Belgium and Australia, the women’s tour continues to welcome new women players of all levels of ability.
A founding sport at the Paralympic Games back in 1960, snooker was last contested at the Paralympic Games in Seoul 1988 as the late Mick Langley claimed the gold medal.
Thirty years later and disability snooker is once again on the rise following the creation of World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) in 2015. Offering competition for people with physical, learning and sensory disabilities, it is the long-term aim of WDBS to see snooker reclaim its rightful place at the Paralympic Games in the future.
In 2018 few would argue that the ever-increasing standard of play on the professional circuit makes it harder than ever not only to break through onto the main tour, but to stay there. As a result, there are more and more players either dropping off, or who have perhaps not played for a few years now, who are not yet ready to give up their snooker journey.
That has all changed however with the launch of the new World Seniors Snooker Tour (WSST), officially supported by the WPBSA for the first time with six ranking events to be staged during the 2018/19 season.
From the likes of former greats Stephen Hendry, Cliff Thorburn and Joe Johnson, to amateurs including Jersey’s Aaron Canavan who earlier this year become world seniors champion despite never having competed on the professional tour, the WSST is open to all players over 40 who dare to dream.
As snooker continues to expand and develop into new territories, so too does the sport of English Billiards under the guidance of World Billiards, another successful subsidiary company of the WPBSA.
With its thriving global events calendar complemented by its dedicated billiards coaching course first launched in 2016, the organisation continues to provide opportunities for billiards players of all levels of experience to compete.
In addition to the development work undertaken by our subsidiary bodies, the WPBSA Sport Development Team led by Chris Hornby has also been responsible for several localised projects, utilising our exclusive ‘Little Star’ tables designed and constructed by Xing Pai Star. The tables have been utilised in a wide range of locations including leisure/community centres, schools, colleges, spinal units, multi-sport open days and Cue Zones at World Snooker events in the UK.
Particularly significant projects have been snooker sessions at both Sheffield and Doncaster Mencap, (including a unique ‘festival’ event earlier this year between both groups) and the ‘Snooker for Health and Friendship’ group based at YMCA East London.
Of course, while many aspire to play like their heroes, participation in snooker extends beyond simply playing and one alternative way to get involved is coaching with a WPBSA World Snooker coaching qualification.
With our Level 1 course offering an introduction to coaching the basics of the game, complemented by the Level 2 course devised in conjunction with nationally recognised awarding organisation 1st4sport, there are options for aspiring snooker coaches of all levels of experience.
Through our umbrella organisation the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards (EPSB) we have also launched a new official Club Affiliation Scheme known as The 147 Club during the past 12 months.
By becoming a member of the scheme, snooker clubs are able to promote their facilities as a safe and enjoyable place to play and in return receive significant benefits including insurance savings, coaching discounts and a place on our new Club Finder facility.
And so snooker truly is a sport where you can #Cue4All – whatever your involvement in the sport, remember to use the hashtag which symbolises our diversity to help spread the word about how everyone can get involved!