The 2015/16 CZIS Sheffield Schools Finals were played to a conclusion at Sheffield Springs Academy over the last week.
Open to primary, secondary and specialist schools, the event was first launched at last year’s Betfred World Championship and children from 33 schools participate across the year. Each school taking part in this year’s event received six-foot tables to set up their own Cue Zone, as well as the opportunity for their teachers to qualify as WPBSA World Snooker coaches.
The Finals event saw several local schools take part, with pupils competing in activities such as the 60 second challenge and a main competition under the ’15-15’ format, which sees 15 minute matches played with whoever is ahead after that time being declared the winner.
Event winners on the day were presented with prizes including a television and a trophy, while every pupil received a brand new snooker cue and case to keep.
WPBSA Head of Coaching and Grassroots development Chris Lovell said:
“At last year’s Finals we had 16 schools take part and 4,000 children playing from January to April concluding in a superb Finals day. This year we wanted to broaden the spectrum, so we went to 33 schools and encouraged them to get involved. We have had primary schools in their own competition for the first time, as well as secondary schools and also specialist schools. We have seen a real cross-section of participation.
“The response from the schools has been fabulous. We have seen so many smiles on people’s faces and the response from the teachers has been huge. They have all just competed their level two coaching badges with the WPBSA, so we have certified them to go into the field and create proper snooker schools within the snooker curriculum which is fantastic for us.
“We have given it the old fashioned snooker youth club feel and what that does is generate camaraderie. People talk to people they wouldn’t usually talk to, may even fall out with in the school playground, but get them inside a snooker hall and it’s one big team. Some people wouldn’t have been able to come this morning because they were on the verge of exclusion. We’ve got them engaged with this project and the schools have seen a different side to them.”
Helen Solly, SEN School Sport Coordinator for Links School Sport Partnership added:
“We have got a number of specialist schools involved in the Cue Zone into Schools Project, it’s a fantastic opportunity for all of the kids to get involved.
“So far it has been absolutely fantastic. Lots of children have got involved and from an impact point of view it has really hit the nail on the head in terms of trying to be very inclusive. A lot of our students who have struggled with social communication have manage to develop that through snooker. It has allowed several groups of children who don’t usually communicate very well together to play a game of snooker and be able to develop their social skills.”
Click here to watch the video feature first broadcast by the BBC on 21st April 2016.