A snooker group for people with learning disabilities in Doncaster, South Yorkshire has gone from strength to strength in recent months.
Organised by the Royal Mencap Society in partnership with snooker’s world governing body the WPBSA, the initiative is the expansion of a project initially launched in Sheffield in November 2016.
Following the donation of one Little Star table by the WPBSA to Local Mencap Doncaster, sessions were held for initial participants over an eight-week period. These included a variety of games and exercises, which aim to be both fun and encourage participants to learn technique and develop their everyday skills including patience, team work and team building.
Sessions were outcome based and specifically focused on:
- Each session included a different activity such as colour recognition so those who did not know the colours could learn to recognise them.
- A different type of game was played each session to teach aim, alignment, getting the balls where they need to be, hitting one ball against another to have the required effect.
- Learning the correct points scored by potting the different colour balls, therefore developing their numeracy skills.
- Learning how to be part of a team, the meaning of competition, helping each other, giving encouragement, team building and confidence building.
- Learning how to conduct oneself, snooker etiquette and to learn respect of the equipment.
- To learn the correct way to hold and play with the equipment.
- To learn the effects and outcomes of hitting the balls at different angles, speeds and power.
At the end of the eight-week period, participants were then able to take part in mini-tournaments to put their new skills to the test. This is followed by a ceremony at which they are presented with medals, certificates and the tournament winner receives a trophy.
Sessions were delivered by Mencap staff, who beforehand received Activator training from WPBSA coaching consultant Chris Lovell to equip them with the skills required to be able to deliver community sessions.
WPBSA Sport Development Manager Chris Hornby said: “Building on from the success at Sheffield Mencap last year it made sense to develop similar sessions within other Mencap groups within South Yorkshire. Doncaster Mencap has taken this project on and put its own stamp on it. Hopefully this can be the start of many groups like this that showcases snooker as the truly inclusive sport it is.”
Following the success of the initial run, further eight-week courses are already underway with new people and there are also plans to stage a festival event between those who have learned snooker in Sheffield and Doncaster.
Royal Mencap Society Sports Engagement Officer Faye Dixey said: “It’s been great working with WPBSA and Doncaster Mencap on delivering the snooker project that has had such a positive impact on the participants. The festival will be a great opportunity for participants from Doncaster and Sheffield to showcase the skills learnt and compete for glory in the first ever Mencap snooker festival. We look forward to working further with WPBSA to get more people with a learning disability in to snooker.”