The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) as the world governing body for snooker and billiards provides a valuable service to the World Snooker Tour by underpinning the development of the sport.
As part of this role, the WPBSA is supporting a brand new project in England called the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards (EPSB). The EPSB is an umbrella organisation that will align the interests of the affiliated bodies and create projects to inspire and drive awareness of snooker and billiards to new participants in England. Its objectives are to increase participation, improve facilities and promote cue sports with an inclusive approach providing an opportunity for all.
It brings together the WPBSA, the English Association of Snooker and Billiards (EASB), World Billiards Limited (WBL), World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Limited (WLBS) and World Disability Billiards and Snooker Limited (WDBS).
Building on existing programmes like Cue Zone into Schools the partnership will educate through cuesports whilst encouraging a new generation to take up snooker and billiards. By creating a clear pathway from beginner to elite professional and developing a structured coaching environment, the partnership will inspire all regardless of gender, ability or ethnicity to fulfil potential.
Sports Development Plan Launched
On 25 April 2016 the EPSB announced its Sports Development Plan in England, bringing together professional, amateur, women’s and disability snooker, as well as successful projects including the Cue Zone into Schools programme.
The Sport Development Plan is the first phase of a series of projects which will underpin the continued increase in participation in snooker and billiards in England. It will encourage a wider diversity of people to take up the sport, increase female and disabled participation and create a clear pathway for promising talent.
In November 2016 the EASB board formally approved the process for the EPSB to apply for the national governing body status. The pre-application form for this process to begin was completed and sent to Sport England in December 2016. Alongside the pre-application the EPSB had prepared an outline plan document with some initial project concepts for Sport England to consider on its next funding cycle.
In preparation for this the WPBSA had carried out an insight survey over a period of two months early in 2016. The survey was devised with the aim of learning more about participation in snooker including why people play snooker and what benefits exist for players at all levels. Equally, the WPBSA is keen to better understand what barriers exist to those who don’t play and how these might be overcome by future initiatives.
A comprehensive survey, covering subjects including general snooker habits and also inclusivity, it saw responses from 1,351 people, from 74 countries around the world.
The EPSB used the findings and feedback from participants of this survey to help support and justify projects by demonstrating the positive aspects that playing snooker and billiards can provide as a sport to certain demographics. These include both physical and mental benefits:
“For me, the biggest thing is that headspace – the psychological benefit. Obviously the physical benefits are huge, but for me, it just creates that disconnect between being on that day-to-day hamster wheel and being able to have clear thinking and put things into perspective.”
“By meeting up every Friday it provides me with a reason to get out of the house each week. I’m recently unemployed with issues of depression to deal with and snooker provides me with an enjoyable focal point each week. Added to this my love of the game (stretching back to 1979) I find the game to be an immensely rewarding one.”
Following the publication of survey results online the WPBSA was contacted by a Senior Lecturer from Anglia Ruskin University, with a view to utilising the results to produce a Mental Health Research Study into the benefits of playing snooker. Titled ‘Exploring aspects of cognitive development and mental health awareness as part of a health promotional goal in Snooker’, the final paper is due to be completed and published later this year.
In addition to the insight survey, through the EPSB’s work with World Disability Billiards and Snooker there have also been working key relationships created with organisations including Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap, Wheelpower, Inclusion Gloucestershire and Special Olympics Gloucestershire. Through these relationships the EPSB has created new projects and open days to be trialled incorporating small six-foot foldable tables, currently used within the Cue Zone into Schools scheme to further its goal of reinforcing snooker and billiards in the community as a sport for all.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said:
“The EPSB has all of the key components needed to build a robust and credible umbrella sports development operation here in England for our sport. We are delighted to see these parties connected to our sport now under one organisation.
“To obtain the best result in anything, all parties must be facing the same way and we have now achieved this through the EPSB. Our submission to Sport England is a major step forward for our sport. Whilst the top end of our game is going from strength to strength, it is vital that we reinvest in the right areas to provide a greater benefit to our sport and communities.
“We eagerly await Sport England’s responses, however regardless I am confident that the EPSB is a strong and stable platform to work from.”
For more information about the EPSB visit: www.wpbsa.com/play/english-partnership/