A new snooker initiative in England open to all people with a disability has gone from strength to strength since its launch last September.
Known as ‘Snooker for Health and Friendship’, the club is based at the YMCA East London and offers two-hour weekly sessions to people of all ages and of any level of experience to come and try snooker in a fun and relaxed environment.
The project is organised jointly by the Motivate East project, YMCA & local volunteers based at YMCA and funded by WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport based at Stoke Mandeville, the home of the Paralympic movement.
The project has been backed by snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), which last summer donated two ‘Little Star’ tables to be used during sessions. Due to popular demand which has seen the club joined by over 20 members including players and carers to date, a third table is schedule to be provided this month.
Prior to the start of the sessions, WPBSA coaching consultant Chris Lovell visited the venue to provide activator training to authorised volunteers at the facility, equipping them to deliver fun, bite-sized snooker sessions to the community.
One of the driving forces behind the club has been Thessa Mac, whose son David, discovered the sport recently and is a regular at events staged by World Disability Billiards and Snooker.
Supporting the sessions at the YMCA as a parent-carer volunteer, Thessa is delighted by the progress that has been made since the launch:
“It is a joy and inspirational to see people having so much fun together!” said Mac. “Already we have seen some amazing stories, including players who are blind or have profound learning disabilities that have come along and actively wanted to be involved and to try snooker themselves.
“The numbers are continuing to rise and it is fantastic to see people with such a wide-range of disabilities coming together to play snooker. We are also especially grateful to their carers and the wonderful job that they do to support them.”
WPBSA Sport Development Manager Chris Hornby has overseen the launch of the project and added: “It is great to see the development of this snooker group in the YMCA in Walthamstow. Thessa and David have been so passionate about the sport at our WDBS events so to be able to give them the opportunity to share the passion within their local community has been very rewarding for us all.
“WheelPower and Motivate East have also been very supportive and hopefully this form of community group can be replicated and produce a pathway from community hubs into formal snooker environments.”
To learn more about Snooker for Health and Friendship and Motivate East visit their website: http://motivateeast.co.uk/2017/09/new-inclusive-snooker-club/