This week World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) heads to Cwmbran for the first ever WDBS Welsh Open, featuring a record 45 players from all classification groups.
Among those in action will be Gary Gallacher, a player who has been with us since our first Group 7 event in Woking over a year ago and has been an ever-present since.
Like Phillip Murphy who we spoke to recently, Gary is from Wales and so we caught up with him to preview our latest event…
You have been with us since our first event for Group 7 players in Woking last year, can you tell us what snooker and these WDBS events in particular have done for you?
I watched snooker on TV as a child and started playing in my teens. Now in my mid fifties, I still love the game as much as I did all those years ago. Obviously my disability has held me back but the WDBS has now given me a chance to play competitively within a level playing field.
What have you been able to learn from the players that you have played against?
We all have the same passion about snooker and it goes to show that no matter what disability you have, anything is possible.
How have you found the camaraderie at these events, the social side and getting to know fellow regulars like Bob Craft and David Baker.
It has been absolutely fantastic. Coming in as a new player (Woking), I was made to feel welcome straight away and although we are all extremely competitive, we always find time for a chat and a few beers with each other, comparing cues, makes, woods, tips etc. The list is endless!
Tell us about your disability, how does this affect your snooker?
I have ‘Intolerable Diplopia’ (incurable constant double vision). I have had five operations during my lifetime on each eye along with botox injections and various other interventions to no avail. When I play snooker my vision alters with every angle due to also having a horizontal and vertical defect. I am unable to get down to a shot for too long as each eye picks up a different image (they don’t work together), hence I have to line the shot up before I get down to it and play it from memory rather than visually. If I take any longer than a few seconds I have to stand up and start again, this puts pressure on me to play quickly. The greater the distance the more difficult it gets, It’s really frustrating.
You recently joined us for Disability Day at the Crucible, at which your family came with you, how did you find that day?
It was a dream come true to be invited to represent the WDBS at World Disability Snooker Day and was one of my proudest moments. To play alongside such a prestigious event as the World Snooker Championships, tour the Crucible and meet past and present champions was an absolute pleasure. It was something I never thought I would achieve and it’s all down to being part of the WDBS.
Next up we have the first Welsh Open, which will be held in your home country, how much are you looking forward to that?
I can’t wait – counting down the minutes and looking forward to a shorter train journey!
What message would you have for anyone out there considering entering a WDBS event for the first time?
If you are passionate about snooker don’t let disability hold you back. The tournaments, the players, the support and the coaching are second to none. Just get in there and show what you can do.