The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has partnered with Sporting Chance, one of the world’s most innovative centres for the treatment of emotional and mental health problems among professional and former professional sportsmen and women.
The partnership will offer responsive, confidential support to help World Snooker Tour (WST) players deal with the challenges of competing at the pinnacle of professional sport.
Sporting Chance was set up by Tony Adams, MBE, to address the difficulties he experienced as a player in accessing professional, confidential support for his problems. Twenty years later, the charity – which functions exclusively to support both current and retired professional sportspeople – is working with more sports than ever. Football, rugby league, cricket, horse racing, darts and squash all benefit from the tailored services developed by the clinical team at Sporting Chance over the course of two decades and now, through a new agreement with the WPBSA, its services are available to all WST players.
Adams said, “I think the reason we’ve been able to celebrate our twentieth year as a charity is because Sporting Chance was set up, not just on the basis of my own experience but the experience of lots of men and women I’ve spoken with over the years who had come to realise the same thing; that competitive sport comes with its own set of problems and pressures. If we’re making a living – or maybe one day want to make a living – from competitive sport, it can be a difficult environment in which to open up about how these problems and pressures affect us.
“I really hope our work with the WPBSA can have a significant impact on the emotional wellbeing of as many professional snooker players as possible. There are still people out there, maybe because of my own story, who think Sporting Chance is just a clinic, that it’s just about addiction. Sporting Chance is there for sportspeople with any issue around their thoughts and feelings, whatever is causing them difficulties, we’re here to get them the right help when they need it and crucially, get help sooner rather than later before it causes them more pain than it needs to.”
In practical terms, the partnership will see the creation of a dedicated 24-Hour Helpline through which the WPBSA’s players are able to access support through an initial triage service and a network of over 200 therapists across the UK. As the WST continues to grow internationally, which has seen the number of players from outside the UK increase significantly, support will be available to players in various languages including Mandarin.
The current situation around Covid-19 means that physical face-to-face therapy has been suspended but in order to provide support to players during these extremely challenging times continued support will be available via phone, email and video-messaging.
Jason Ferguson, Chairman of the WPBSA said, “We are delighted to be working alongside Sporting Chance to provide our players with a level of support which has been developed over the past 20 years. Snooker is a tough mentally challenging sport, and as the sport’s world governing body, the WPBSA takes the welfare of its players very seriously. As an already strong supporter of the Mental Health Charter, we are very pleased to be able to take this next step through this excellent partnership with Sporting Chance.”