Category: General News

World Sight Day 2016

The WDBS is today pleased to support World Sight Day 2016, a key date highlighting the impact of eye health in people’s lives.

Focusing on the theme of ‘Stronger Together’ the day is a reminder of the respective roles of different groups, from key decision makers and government officials, to patients and the wider health community, are all crucial and that the more groups that can be brought together, the stronger the eye health community can become.

Earlier this year the WDBS held its first competitive tournament open to group 7 players, ie those with visual disabilities, the Woking Open won by former professional Paul Smith.

In the final he edged out Blackburn’s David Baker, who is partially sighted following the loss of his right eye when he was 19. As he told us recently however, he has not let his disability get in the way of his long-held passion for snooker:

“I first began to play snooker when I was 16,” said Baker. “Not one to give up, following my accident I continued to learn and adjust myself to continue playing snooker. Looking back, I think it’s fair to say that my standard never dropped, it may well have improved due to the fact I now have a single tunnel vision.”wsd-logo-2016_blue_2

The challenge for Baker has not ended with the loss of his eye however as more recently he has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure.

“My fibromyalgia poses all sorts of problems and limits me considerably to how much I can play the game. In 2007 I was told that due to this I would never be able to play snooker again and I was totally devastated at the time as I could barely walk. But stubborn is my middle name and slowly I regained some of my strength back, as well as learning how best to cope with this challenge.”

Nearly ten years on from his diagnosis, Baker is back on the baize and considers snooker as something that is more than a hobby to him. As well as the physical benefits, he also considers the sport to have important mental and social benefits that anybody involved with the game can benefit from:

“I can honestly say that snooker has given me strength to cope in any situation, determination and taught me to never give up,” said the 50-year-old. “It helps with concentration, patience and to give you a form of exercise without really knowing it.

“Above all I have been able to meet some fantastic, like-minded people, so overall I can say that snooker has definitely helped me through life and given me some very close friends.”

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Baker began his snooker journey playing for the Burnley Road Bowling Club in Accrington over 30 years ago and in 2014 was thrilled to be able to play at a Snooker Legends event alongside 1985 world champion Dennis Taylor and the ever-popular Jimmy White (watch here).

More recently, he heard of the WDBS prior to this year’s Manchester Classic and attended the open day at that event, prior to competing in Woking.

“Someone had mentioned the WDBS on one of the facebook snooker forums that I had joined that day and I got in touch with Chris Hornby (WPBSA Sport Development Manager), who invited me to the event at Manchester to see how it worked and to join in with some of the other disabled people from different categories on the Friday session.

“I enjoyed the experience and this subsequently led to me playing in Woking, which was a fantastic event and gave people the chance to get involved on more equal terms than playing able bodied players.

“It was great to be able to make new friends and to get the feeling that I was part of something special.”

David will be back in action at the WDBS Hull Open, which runs from 11-13 November 2016 at the Tradewell Snooker Centre, Hull. The event is supported by prize fund sponsors Hudgell Solicitors and Think Telecom and you can find out more information, including how to enter here.

WDBS Returns to Manchester

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) will return to Manchester in 2017 for the second WDBS Manchester Classic.

litetask-logoThe event will be staged from 10-12 March 2017 and as was the case earlier this year, will be held at Q’s Sports and Entertainment Bar, Manchester. The main two-day competition will again be open to players from WDBS classification groups 1-5 and will be supported by LITEtask, the UK’s largest independent commercial lighting designers and distributors. Prize money will be available at the event, with further information to be announced in due course.

As at previous events, the weekend will begin with a Friday open day, at which players with all disabilities are encouraged to attend and try snooker, with free practice and coaching from accredited WPBSA World Snooker coaches available.

The Manchester Classic will be the first tournament staged by the WDBS in 2017 and the sixth overall since its formation in July 2015. There are two remaining events in 2016 with the Open Disability Snooker Championship to take place this coming weekend in Gloucester, before the second group 7-8 event, the Hull Open next month.

WDBS director and ambassador Jonathan Adams said: “Our return to Manchester will provide a fantastic opportunity off the back of a successful 2016 to provide a world class event in such a vibrant city. This year’s event was a real success story and so it will again be a welcome stop on the WDBS calendar.”

Further information, including the full entry pack and tournament format will be announced in due course.

Think Telecom to Support Hull Open

The WDBS is today delighted to announce that Think Telecom Ltd will support next month’s Hull Open event.

Based in Maidstone, Think Telecom are a telecoms wholesaler on the open reach network, specialising in offering bespoke telecommunications solutions including line rental, calls, broadband and merchant services to businesses within the UK.

Think Telecom join the already announced Hudgell Solicitors in backing the tournament, meaning that we can now confirm a minimum prize fund of £550 across the event.

As previously announced, there will be two classification groups eligible to compete in the main competition from 12-13 November 2016, including players with both visual (group 7) and hearing (group 8) disabilities.

There will also be a free open day on Friday 11th November 2016 at which people with any disabilities or level of experience, are encouraged to come and try snooker.

The event will take place at the Tradewell Snooker Centre, Hull, which has 14 full-size tables including one Star table fitted to professional templates.

We are still accepting entries for the 2016 Hull Open, with the entry deadline set to fall on Friday 4th November 2016. Further information is available in the entry pack, however please do not hesitate to contact us via our website or social media should you require further information.

WDBS Medal Winners

Gloucester Geared for WDBS

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is set to stage its fourth ever event this weekend with the 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship in Gloucester.

The WDBS will return to the South West Snooker Academy, the venue which hosted the very first WDBS event last November. As in 2015, the action will begin with a Friday open day of coaching and practice, together with a learning disability snooker festival for players with learning disabilities (group six), supported by Special Olympics Gloucestershire.

This will be followed by a two-day tournament for groups 1-5 players which will see a record 33 players participate across three competitions. As at previous events, all players not qualifying for their knock-out stages of their classification will be eligible to enter a Challenge Cup event on the second day.

Players returning include all of our event finalists from 2015, including India’s Raja Subramanian, Daniel Blunn from Sutton Coldfield and Oxted’s Graham Bonnell.

While there will be many familiar elements to the event for returning players, there will also be new aspects to the event, which will be the first to have updated scoring and tables throughout the weekend via the MySnookerStats service. The event will also be the first to carry prize money, following support received from global engineering company Renishaw plc.

In view of the high number of entries, players are advised that they will be required to attend for a prompt start at 10:00am on Saturday.

Full coverage and updates throughout the weekend will be available at wdbs.info in addition to our social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook.

Hudgell Backing for Hull Open

The 2016 WDBS Hull Open will be supported by Hudgell Solicitors, a Hull-based legal services provider, operating nationally with further offices in London, Leeds and Bristol.

Hudgell Solicitors specialise in advising on personal injury and medical negligence compensation claims. Their managing director Neil Hudgell founded the company in 1997 and himself is no stranger to competitive sport as he also acts as Chairman of rugby league team Hull Kingston Rovers.

The Hull Open will be the event staged by World Disability Billiards and Snooker in Yorkshire and will be held at the Tradewell Snooker Centre, which boasts 14 tables, including one Star table fitted to professional templates. The event will be the second open to players with visual and hearing impairments, following the WDBS Woking Open back in May.

People with any disabilities are encouraged to attend to try snooker for free and to receive coaching during our open day on Friday 11th November 2016.

With the support provided by Hudgell Solicitors the WDBS are pleased to confirm that as with our upcoming event in Gloucester, prize money will now also be available at the Hull Open. A further announcement will be made as soon as possible as to how this will be distributed.

We are still accepting entries for the 2016 Hull Open, with the entry deadline set to fall on Friday 4th November 2016. Further information is available in the entry pack, however please do not hesitate to contact us via our website or social media should you require further information.

World Cerebral Palsy Day 2016

World Cerebral Palsy Day is a movement of people with cerebral palsy and their families in more than 50 countries, which this year takes place today on Wednesday 5th October 2016.

Held since 2012, originally as the ‘Change My World in 1 Minute’ campaign, the day is held on the first Wednesday of each October and is coordinated by the World Cerebral Palsy Initiative, a group of non-profit cerebral palsy (CP) organisations with a global vision to create real change for people living with CP.

Jonathan Adams, World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) director and ambassador, was born with CP which affects all four of his limbs, particularly on his left-hand side. He has not let this stop him from pursuing his dreams however, competing at the London 2012 Paralympics for Great Britain, as well as playing a key part in the development of the WDBS during the past 12 months.

On the playing side, we have too seen a number of players with CP take part, including Gloucester winner Daniel Blunn, who we recently featured during our classification guide for Group 3 players. Peter Hull from Uxbridge first joined us for the WDBS Manchester Classic, as well as Andy Johnson who took victory in the Group 4/5 event back in March.cpday1

A player who will be returning for the upcoming 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship is Andy Harper from St Helens. Known as ‘snookerfanatic’ on social media, he first fell in love with the sport back in 2001, watching the late Paul Hunter famously come back to win the first of his three Masters titles at Wembley.

He recently told us of the challenges of playing the game for somebody with CP, but how he has overcome these and the sense of achievement that he has gained as a result.

“I feel that for someone with CP, snooker is not one of the easiest sports to get into but is definitely one of the most rewarding,” said Harper. “The fundamentals of snooker are a strong bridge and a comfortable stance. These are difficult with CP and to achieve them requires a great deal of work off the table focusing on hand strength and inner core. The bridge especially took a lot of work and needless to say I became quite proficient with the spider.

“I now compete in the first division of the St Helens snooker league with able bodied players and to post the good results that I do has given me tremendous social confidence and satisfaction.”

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The 25-year-old is now looking forward to returning to Gloucester in less than a fortnight and reflected on his WDBS debut at last year’s edition of the event.

“It was great to be able to play on a level playing field and to see everybody enjoying themselves as much as they were,” said Harper. “There was a good atmosphere going and overall I would say that the event was top drawer. Everyone was really nice to each other, chatting and sharing a joke, but when we were at the table it was time to get the game going.”

The 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship takes place from 14-16 October 2016 at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

You can learn more about World Cerebral Palsy Day at https://worldcpday.org/

Renishaw to Support Open Disability Snooker Championship

Next month’s 2016 WDBS Open Disability Snooker Championship will be supported by Gloucester-based Renishaw plc, one of the world’s leading engineering and scientific technology companies.

As in 2015, the event will be held at the South West Snooker Academy and it promises to be the biggest staged by the WDBS to date, with a record amount of entries already received prior to this Friday’s deadline. The tournament will be the fourth to be staged by the WDBS, following events in Gloucester, Manchester and Woking during the last 12 months.

With the support of Renishaw, the WDBS are further pleased to announce that for the first time at one of its events, prize money will be offered for each of the three competitions (Groups 1-2, Group 3 and Groups 4-5), to be played during the weekend. Provisionally, this will be set at £75.00 for each group winner, with the runner-up to receive £25.00.

The entry deadline for the 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship is Friday 30th September 2016, meaning that you have just four days to enter and be part of the action in Gloucester. For more information please download the entry pack.

Swail Supports WDBS

Two-time World Championship semi-finalist Joe Swail has offered his support to World Disability Billiards and Snooker and encouraged players to take part in upcoming events in Gloucester and Hull.

The Northern Irishman, who reached a career-high world ranking of number 10 during the 2001/02 season, was born partially deaf in both ears and says that his results are proof that a disability doesn’t have to hold people back.

“I would definitely encourage players to take part in WDBS events,” said Swail. “The most important thing for players is to enjoy it and if they have got a talent then they should have the chance to progress.

“I’m a firm believer that a disability shouldn’t hinder what you are going to achieve in life. I’ve been a professional for over 25 years now and my disability has never held me back.”

In fact, Swail is philosophical about the effects of his disability and the other related conditions that have developed in recent years, including tinnitus and vertigo.

“I have been partially deaf since birth and it is just one of those things that has deteriorated over the years. It has been a progression and there are connected conditions that have affected me in different ways, but I have learned to deal with it. It is a disability but it is the same as with a lot of other people who have other sensory impairments or physical impairments, you just learn to deal with what you have got, to reflect on the good days, appreciate it’s not the be all and end all, and move on with life which is what I’ve done.”

Photo of Joe Swail playing snooker

Rather than hinder his snooker career, for Swail his disability was one of the reason why he first took up the sport when he was approximately 12-years-old. His older brother Liam is fully deaf in both ears and himself was a talented snooker player, having hit 300 century breaks prior to his 16th birthday. Sadly he was not able to join Joe on the professional circuit following a serious road accident, but their shared passion for the sport was something that helped drive Joe to his achievements so far during his professional career.

“I got involved with snooker because I knew early on that I wouldn’t be able to do a ‘9 to 5’ job which would have required good hearing and patience. With snooker however the silent surroundings and requirement of concentration suited me. My mates were moving on with different things, moving to college and I knew I wouldn’t be capable or have the confidence to do that. But it was snooker that gave me a new lease of life.

“My brother was a fantastic snooker player and we competed against each other as kids. He would want to beat me and I would want to beat him. Unfortunately I lost a lot of games on the 6 foot table, but we spurred each other on and made sure that our disabilities weren’t going to stop us doing what we wanted to do.”

From both his own personal experience and that of his brother, the player nicknamed ‘the Outlaw’ believes that snooker is an ideal sport for people with hearing impairments:

“You are just playing a game that you both enjoy, you know how to play it, you know what you want to try and do and you don’t actually have to try and talk to people. It’s definitely a great hobby for deaf people to get involved with because they are playing the game that they love and they are having a bit of craic as well without having to engage in communication by speaking to one another because you are limited that way.”

The next WDBS event open to players with hearing impairments (group 8 players), will be the WDBS Hull Open from 11-13 November 2016. Read more and learn how you can enter now.

WDBS Classification Guide: Group Five

Today resume our look at the World Disability Billiards and Snooker classification system, used to determine which players are eligible to play in each of our events.

This week our attention turns to the group five profile, the final group of the three encompassing ambulant players who have a physical disability.

WDBS Disability Classification

The WDBS classification system comprises 36 individual profiles, which have then been allocated to eight groups, used to categorise events.

The system has been taken from the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) profile toolkit and revised to suit snooker and billiards.

Group 5 (profiles 16, 22-25, 29-30)

Profile 16: One upper limb is severely impaired.

Profile 22: Both arms slightly impaired or amputated below the elbow.

Profile 23: One leg has slight impairment.

Profile 24: One arm slightly impaired or amputated below the elbow.

Profile 25: Very short stature (at least 12 inches (30.5cm) shorter than average.

Profile 29: Severe to moderate weakness in both shoulders.

Profile 30: Severe to moderate weakness in trunk.

Together with groups three and four already covered in previous weeks, group five also applies to ambulant players (ie players who can walk) and is made up of six disability profiles (22-25, 29-30), plus the ‘either/or’ profile 16. Players falling under profile 16 with orthosis/appliances will also be classified as group five players.

At WDBS events held to date, group five players have competed together with group four players in competitions. Of the three ambulant groups, players who fall under group five are the least affected by their disability when playing across all groups

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Among the group five players to have taken part in WDBS events so far is Zena ‘Zee’ Latcham, a former three-time British Disability Snooker champion, who was involved in a car accident in 1985 that resulted in the amputation of her lower left arm.

Following this, she looked locally for disabled sports and in 1990 began to play snooker for the first time. More recently, she learned about the WDBS through social media and competed at her first event in Manchester earlier this year.

Open Disability Snooker Championship 2016

We have looked at five groups (1-5), with players from all now eligible to play at the 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship in Gloucester next month. You can read more information about the event, including how to enter here.

Next week we turn to our group six classification which includes players with intellectual disabilities.

WDBS Partners With Special Olympics Network

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is today delighted to announce a new partnership with Special Olympics Gloucestershire.

Photograph of group 6 players at South West Snooker AcademySpecial Olympics is an international organisation providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. WDBS is a subsidiary body of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and was created in July 2015 to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to play snooker.

The agreement will see the WDBS work closely with Special Olympics Gloucestershire on innovative new projects in the local area which will provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to play snooker. This will also include the support of the upcoming Learning Disability Snooker Festival at the WDBS Open Disability Snooker Championship at the South West Snooker Academy on 14th October 2016.

The new partnership underlines the commitment of the WDBS to provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to access high-quality sports coaching and competition programmes.

Chris Hornby, Sport Development Manager for the WPBSA said: “WDBS is committed to offering opportunities for all and as we started out in Gloucestershire at the South West Snooker Academy it is an ideal location for us to grow connections with other organisations.

Photo of the WDBS team“Active Gloucestershire has been very supportive of WDBS and especially looking at opportunities for us to offer snooker to people with learning disabilities. Hopefully this link with Special Olympics Gloucestershire can be the starting point for people with learning disabilities not only in Gloucestershire, but nationally to try, enjoy, compete and benefit from what the sport of snooker can offer.”

Jenny Rutter from Active Gloucestershire and regional Special Olympics Development Officer for Gloucestershire added: “We are delighted the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association is now part of the Special Olympics Gloucestershire network. Their ethos to provide inclusive activity and disability specific competition routes encompasses our aims.

“At the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, California, 115 athletes represented Great Britain earning 179 medals. None of the athletes who competed were from Gloucestershire.

“Special Olympics Gloucestershire is working to change this by creating partnerships between national governing bodies of sports, local organisations, community groups and sports clubs. We are forming a countywide network bound by one common goal: to create more opportunities for individuals with a learning disability to be active within their local community and compete in sport to the level they desire.”

To learn more about the Special Olympics visit their official website: http://www.specialolympics.org/