Two WPBSA World Snooker coaches are set to launch a new coaching programme at the Lincoln Snooker Club next month as they look to help increase participation in the area and beyond.
Dean Christopher and former English Six Red champion Matt Lee have devised a Saturday Coaching Club that will be open to people of all ages, at which they will provide a basic understanding of the game and techniques to new players and offer more experienced players additional advice to help improve their play.
Having both been resident at the club for a number of years, as well as regular fixtures in their local leagues during that time, they remain as passionate about snooker as ever and are now looking to help inspire the next generation of snooker players in Lincoln.
“We both feel that participation in the game, particularly at younger ages and grassroots level is crucial to the future of snooker,” said Christopher. “We want to get people to play snooker and to help generate more interest in the game. These are the players who are going to determine the future shape of the game in Lincoln for the next decade or two, so getting them playing and interested in the game is what we want to do. I think that snooker is a great game and that other people can feel the same as well.”
Both Lee and Christopher were themselves introduced to snooker by starting at a Saturday morning club and are looking to offer the same opportunity for today’s youngsters. They do so with the backing of the club’s owner Mark Baptist, who took over ownership from his late father Ken, who founded the club back in 1979.
“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel,” said Christopher. “We want to do something slightly different and to put something back. We have the passion for the game, we love snooker and we want to give something to the game.
“It’s the way we started and we have the facilities here. We are grateful to the owner of the club Mark for letting us have the club for two hours every Saturday and the support we have received from the Lincoln League Association and the WPBSA.”
With its launch set to coincide with this year’s World Championship at the Crucible Theatre, the programme is something that has been long in the pipeline. As part of their preparations, both qualified as WPBSA coaches in 2015 and are confident that the club will be a success.
“The opportunity to undertake the coaching course arose and it went hand in hand with my role here,” explained Christopher. “It was something that I had never thought of, but now that my career has switched to snooker it seemed the perfect time to do it and our intention always was to develop something like this.
“We understand what makes a competent snooker player because of the way we started out. We are different in technique but we’ve got decent personalities, got the respect of people in here and I’m quite confident that the sessions will be productive for everyone who wants to come along.
“We are based in Lincoln but we are under the WPBSA banner really as we have done the coaching so it’s a big thing. We are excited because of the potential that exist and we haven’t gone into this blindly.
“We have both been DBS checked, we have had to think about all sorts of legislation such as pick up points, first aiders and have spoken to the local council for advice. We wanted to do it properly and to make sure that everything is done to the letter.
“We have also set targets as to where we want players playing competitively as the programme develops and once we have got players on board, we will look at getting them to certain levels at certain times.”
“People have got to enjoy it as well,” added Matt Lee. “It has got to be a positive experience when they come here. You have got to mix it up a bit, you can’t just say to pot a blue in the middle pocket 50 times. All the kids will want to do is play snooker so I have thought of lots of little games to improve touch shots and things like that. It’s going to be a proper little workshop on Saturday mornings!”
Having secured additional financial backing from four local sponsors, already the scheme has attracted significant interest ahead of the open day this Saturday, before the programme gets underway from Saturday 9th April.
“The open day will be an opportunity for people to come and look around the club and play a few shots,” said Christopher. “Me and Matt will say a few words and do a bit of a presentation, offering an overview of the programme. Hopefully parents can come along and see what we are about, then we can use that day to get people registered.
“We have pushed it through social media including Facebook and Twitter, have put posters here and around other clubs. We have also been on the local radio and already know that the open day will be well to capacity. If we are over then great, we will find a way to make to make sure that everybody finds their place.”
It is also expected that some of the area’s local players will support the programme, with recent Rob Hall, winner of the LITEtask UK Open billiards championship on Monday, and world snooker referee Nigel Leddie having also been approached to become involved.
Ultimately, the hope is that many of the potential players who will be introduced, or in some cases reintroduced to the game, will be inspired to play beyond the two-hour Saturday School and transition to the local leagues.
“We run the competitions here and have in-house competitions on the Sunday which have gone really well. Some weeks our prize money is up there with the highest in the country when we have 20 guys from Lincoln.
“Hopefully for those who come along it’s not just going to be Saturday mornings. The key is that they go away and nag their dads to bring them in the week, or come themselves if they are old enough and play more.
“They are not going to progress at any rate if they are just playing on a Saturday morning. If they just want to do that then great, but if they are going to develop their games and end up being decent snooker players or players who even want to enjoy it, you want them to play more. The aim is to sprout into them playing more snooker more often and help bring through the next generation of snooker players in the area.”
The Saturday Coaching Club will begin on 9th April and run every Saturday between 9am and 11am, with an introductory rate of £5 per week per person. Beforehand, the open day will take place on Saturday 2nd April, offering a chance to visit the club and meet the coaches.
For more information please call 01522 527 427 or visit the official homepage: http://www.lincolnsnookerclub.co.uk/saturday-snooker-coaching-club/