Tag: Joe Hardstaff

Nigel Brasier Q&A

Next month’s 360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship marks the first anniversary since Nigel Brasier joined the World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) circuit.

Having since established himself as a regular competitor on tour, this year’s event in Northampton will be extra special for the Spalding native as its Friday Open Day will be supported by a charity close to his heart, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).

We recently caught up with Nigel to talk about his love for snooker and the importance of both the MNDA and WDBS to him.

Hi Nigel, how excited are you that the MNDA will be supporting us next month in Northampton?

I am very excited and extremely proud that MNDA is supporting the 360 Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton. I have put a lot of time and effort into raising awareness and much needed funds for MNDA and this competition is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of such a horrific disease.

The event marks the first anniversary of your WDBS debut – what has WDBS meant to you over the last 12 months?

Yes, Northampton 2018 is where it all began for me. A chance meeting with [Group 3 player] Joe Hardstaff in a club in Boston, Lincolnshire, is where the seed was sown. I got talking to Joe and he told me all about WDBS and here I am!

WDBS is just like one big family, I will never forget how welcome I was made to feel on my first day at Barratts Snooker Club. It was mind-blowing to see so many people with various disabilities enjoying each other’s company whilst playing the game they love. Snooker helps me focus and takes my mind off the illness I have and WDBS has given me even more opportunities to do this.

How long have you played snooker and what is it that you most enjoy about our sport?

I have been playing snooker since I first had a 6ft table in my bedroom when I was eight years old. My passion for the game started when I first saw my hero Alex Higgins play. I love the buzz of trying to pot as many balls as I can, although I do like a good safety battle too and really enjoyed my match against ex-professional Dean Reynolds in Hull.

What has been the impact of MND upon your snooker?

I have a slower version of Motor Neurone Disease called Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS). The nerves from the brain and spinal cord stop working properly, which causes muscle waste and eventually you become locked in your own body, it’s only the mind that will function normally. The impact this has on my snooker so far is that both my legs have become weak and I walk with metal splints to keep my feet up. I suffer from fatigue and also fasciculation (muscle twitching all over my body). This requires 110% concentration and is not visible when I play.

Of course, you are no stranger to snooker competitions and you have run events in the past to raise awareness of the MNDA…

The MNDA has supported me over the years with my quality of life because I do not work and has also provided me with huge support for my ever-growing fundraising activities.

Every October I organise a fundraising snooker competition in aid of the MNDA which will reach its fifth year on 12th October 2019. One night after a league match, I had a weird dream of holding a fundraising competition. The next morning, I put pen to paper and with support of friends and members of our Spalding & District Snooker League my fundraising was born.

So far I have raised approximately £12,000 in four years. Each year I have 42 entries and start play from 9.00am until the finish. It’s hard work but worth every effort to help others like myself and their families.

What are your future goals at WDBS events?

It would mean the world to me if I could win a competition or two. WDBS has become like a snooker family to me and from the first day I walked into Barratts last year the friendship has grown and grown.

I play to win but the social and friendship side are the real winners for me.

Nigel will be among those in action at the 360Fizz UK Disability Championship from 20-22 September 2019. Entry for the event is still open HERE.

Northern Classic 2019: Tournament Preview

The opening World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) event of the new year takes place this weekend at the renowned Hazel Grove Snooker Club in Stockport, which will be hosting WDBS competition for the first time.

Consisting of five separate tournaments, the 2019 Northern Classic features players with a range of physical and learning disabilities who will contest their respective classification groups and will be sponsored by BB Scaffolding.

DSActive Day

Ahead of the competitive action the weekend will begin with a special open day which will be supported by the Down syndrome initiative DSActive.

People with all disabilities, including Down syndrome are welcomed to the club to try snooker regardless of experience and receive coaching from our team of WPBSA World Snooker coaches at the Go Green Energy Coaching Zone.

Groups 1-2

The wheelchair category continues to be one of the most exciting and competitive sections on the WDBS scene, although Daniel Lee is currently the player to beat.

Lee enjoyed a terrific 2018 campaign that saw him secure a trio of titles; the multi-classification Welsh Open, the Champion of Champions and he heads to Stockport as the defending Northern Classic champion.

He faces a difficult task holding onto his crown, though. Reigning Open Disability champion Aslam Abubaker broke his WDBS duck in Northampton last September and now he has a taste for more success.

There will also be no lack of motivation for fellow entrants Tony Southern, Glyn Lloyd and Shahab Siddiqui – all previous finalists on the circuit who are hoping to go all the way this time around.

Group 3

Following feedback received from players Group 3 will consist solely of ambulant players with one or more upper limbs either absent or severely impaired.

This means that a number of previous Group 3 winners with either full use, or moderately impaired upper limbs will be re-classified either as Group 4 or Group 5 players.

Of those who are set to contest the Group 3 tournament however is Nigel Coton, a former winner back in 2016 at the Open Disability Snooker Championship.

He will be joined by the likes of John Teasdale, Joe Hardstaff and Kal Mattu, all experienced competitors on the WDBS circuit.

Groups 4-5*

Several familiar names appear in the line-up for the Group 4/5 tournament that boasts a healthy number of entries, boosted further by those previously classified as Group 3 competitors.

Headline players include reigning champion Mickey Chambers and recent Champion of Champions winner David Church, who will resume their ongoing struggle for supremacy in the division – they have shared the last four titles between themselves.

Within the field of cueists who are seeking to break up this recent dominance are former Manchester Classic champions Andy Johnson and David Weller. They will also be joined by multiple WDBS champions Daniel Blunn and William Thomson, who met in the Group 3 final of this event a year ago.

In form David Moore will also be another player to watch. Moore benefited from being a late replacement for Gloucester a few months ago where he topped the round robin before losing to Church in the final.

A quarter-finalist on debut at Barratts in the Autumn, Marcin Kubalski will once again make the trip across from Poland to pit his wits on the WDBS tour.

Female players Danielle Findlay and Maureen Rowland also form part of a diverse jigsaw.

*Note that subject to entries, there may be individual competitions for Groups 4 and 5.

Groups 6A / 6B

For only the second time players with intellectual disabilities will have the opportunity to compete in Group 6 events across the full weekend.

Twelve months ago, in Preston, it was third time lucky for Leroy Williams in a WDBS final as he recorded his first triumph on the circuit. The defending champion is back aiming to retain his title in the 6B autistic section but faces stiff opposition from several quarters.

This includes fellow Liverpool based star Daniel Harwood, who is looking to continue his impressive streak on tour. Already a record equaling six-time WDBS winner, Harwood claimed the prestigious Champion of Champions and Hull Open titles towards the back end of 2018.

Reigning Humber Classic champion Peter Geronimo will also be making the trip up from London.

In the Group 6A learning disabilities discipline, Mike Busst will try to build on his maiden victory in Hull last November.  Among others, he will be joined by Hull finalist Faisal Butt and Alexandra Mendham, who was a semi-finalist in this event last year.

The Northern Classic runs from 8-10 February 2019 at the Hazel Grove Snooker Centre in Stockport and you can follow updates online here and at our social media pages.

Preview by Matt Huart and Michael Day.

Money Raised For WDBS

Over £1,000 was raised for World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) last Friday an exhibition event held in Lincoln by Snooker Legends.

Featuring five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and BBC commentator John Virgo, the event was organised by former WDBS event winner Nigel Coton and saw the Rocket in top form as he made seven century breaks from nine frames, including a maximum 147 during the evening.

As had been agreed prior to the event, surplus funds raised will be donated to the WDBS. The money, totalling £1,147 will be incorporated into the overall prize fund for the inaugural WDBS Welsh Open, to be held at Redz Snooker Club on 30 June – 2 July 2017.

On hand to receive the donation on behalf of the WDBS were regular players Daniel Blunn and Joe Hardstaff, both of whom had the opportunity to meet and have photographs with O’Sullivan.

WDBS Welsh Open

The entry pack for the WDBS Welsh Open is now available to download here. The competition will be the first open to players from ALL eight disability classification groups and will be played using a Six Red format.

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, ahead of a two-day competitive tournament.

If you require more information about the event or how you can get involved with the WDBS please us our contact form.

WDBS Enjoys Successful Manchester Return

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) enjoyed a successful return to Manchester with the staging of the J&S Trading Manchester Classic 2017 last weekend.

With a field over double in size compared to the inaugural competition at Q’s Sports Bar a year ago, players from across six categories including physical and learning disabilities enjoyed a mixture of competitive snooker and coaching across the three-day event.

The Group 1-2 wheelchair competition was won by Newport’s Craig Welsh, who successfully defended the title that he won a year ago with a dramatic 2-1 victory against Tony Southern. Having each progressed through to the overall final undefeated, the pair split the first two frames before their decider went all the way, with Welsh potting a re-spotted black to clinch the title.

Welsh, who has paraplegia, said: “It was tight all the way but I am delighted to retain my title here in Manchester. I would like to thank WDBS and all of the referees and helpers for yet another well run event in Manchester this weekend. The team do a great job and I would also like to thank Andy Rogers for his help and support this weekend which is much appreciated as always.”

In Group 3 there was a second WDBS title for Daniel Blunn, who won 12 of his 13 frames across the event culminating in a 2-0 success against Gary Sanderson to take the first prize. Blunn, who has been a regular at WDBS events since his victory at the first ever event in Gloucester back in 2015, finished as runner-up in Manchester a year ago to William Thomson, but this year went one better to join Craig Welsh, Graham Bonnell, Raja Subramanian and Paul Smith as a multiple WDBS champion. Blunn also claimed the high break prize from the weekend across all groups.

There was a new winner in the Group 4-5 competition as David Weller defeated David Church 2-0 to win the title. The category was won a year ago by Andy Johnson who made smooth progress through his group this weekend, but was shocked in the semi-finals by WDBS newcomer Church. Ultimately however it was Weller who took the title, also making the highest break of the category along the way.

As at previous tournaments, there was also a Challenge Cup competition held, won by Joe Hardstaff, who a year on from his tournament debut defeated Gavin Gormley over a single frame to take his first medal at a WDBS event.

Prior to the start of the two-day event for players with physical disabilities, Manchester also staged its first Learning Disability Day for Group 6 players, including opportunities for practice, coaching and a competitive Six Red competition. The event was won by Robert Kirby, one of a number of players in attendance from the Selby Gateway Leisure Mencap Society, who returned having enjoyed their first taste of WDBS snooker at the Hull Open last November.

The event was well supported by players, sponsors and also welcomed Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston, who has been diagnosed with the rare connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, to its Friday open day and Group 6 competition.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said: “I am delighted by the success of what has been our most active and engaging event held to date. The WDBS is now really starting to make its mark and I could not have been happier with the support that we have received from all of the players, helpers and sponsors without whom the event would not have been possible.

“In particular I would like to mention the backing received from title sponsor J&S Trading through Simon Berrisford, which has already pledged its support for future WDBS events including our return to Manchester in 2018. Together with the contributions that we have received from them and our other prize money sponsors including LITEtask and the PHMG Foundation, our events and organisation will only continue to grow.”

The next WDBS tournament will be the first ever 2017 Paul Hunter Disability Classic on 12-14 May 2017 at the Derby Cueball. The competition will be the third WDBS event open to players with sensory disabilities (Groups 7-8) and is currently accepting entries.

WDBS Classification Guide: Group Four

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

This week we look at the group four profiles, the second of three groups relating to 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 4 (profiles 14-15, 17-21, 27-28)

Profile 14: Able to walk, but one side of the body is of little use; usually can only balance unaided on the good leg.

Profile 15: Able to walk, but only one side of body is non-affected.

Profile 17: Able to walk, but both legs are severely impaired.

Profile 18: Able to walk, but one leg severely impaired.

Profile 19: Able to walk, one leg severely impaired, other leg less impaired.

Profile 20: Able to walk but both legs impaired slightly.

Profile 21: Both arms are severely impaired or amputated

Profile 27: Opposite arm and leg severely impaired.

Profile 28: Both hips impaired causing walking difficulty.

Group four is the second of three groups for ambulant players (i.e. players who can walk) and is made up of eight disability profiles (15, 17-21 & 27-28), plus the ‘either/or’ profile 14. Players falling under profile 14 with orthosis/appliances will also be classified as group four players.

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

Player view

As was the case with group three featured last week, we have already seen a large number of group four players compete in the WDBS events held to date. Winners of the group 4/5 events include World Billiards player Raja Subramanian and the experienced Andy Johnson, while world wheelchair darts champion Ricky Chilton was also involved in Manchester.

Another who made his debut in our second event was Joe Hardstaff, an IT teacher from Boston, Lincolnshire. Born with phocomelia, a rare disability that causes the bones of the arms, and in some cases other appendages, to be extremely shortened and even absent, Hardstaff falls under profile 21 of the WDBS classification system.

Although he has less competitive experience than some of the other players mentioned (the Manchester Classic was his first taste of competition snooker), Hardstaff is no stranger to cuesports having first been introduced when he was approximately 13-years-old:

“My brother and I would go to the snooker club once a week and play snooker and pool,” said Hardstaff. “I then started to play in our local pool league at the age of 16 and have since won many local town competitions. Snooker has been a game that I have played alongside this as a cue practice mechanism as I never classed myself as good enough to join the local snooker league.”

wdbsprofile21

A former football coach whose son now plays for a local academy, Hardstaff learned of the WDBS earlier this year following an enquiry to the WPBSA as to competitive opportunities for people with disabilities. Following his debut in Manchester he is now relishing the prospect of gaining match experience in future tournaments.

“Snooker for me is a love – hate game,” said Hardstaff. “Fortunately I love it more than I hate it! It’s one of those games that when you are playing well it is extremely rewarding and enjoyable to play.

“I would consider myself as an experienced player but with a lot to learn as my competitive side of snooker is a bit lacking. Having played most of my games in a non-competitive, friendly way with family and friends, it’s certainly something that needs a bit of work.

“I can compete with players of a similar skill level but importantly my disability makes very little difference, although you would not perhaps think that when you see me. There are certain barriers that my disability creates such as bridging over balls that are close together, long reaching shots and power shots however this is compensated somewhat in different approaches to shot selection.”

JoeH

Hardstaff describes his involvement in the Manchester Classic as a real ‘eye-opener’, while he was also one of the players who attended World Disability Snooker Day at the 2016 World Championship.

“I went into the competition with an open mind and I was amazed by the standard of play,” continued Hardstaff. “I met some very nice people who I met again at the World Championship in Sheffield where I attended the disability day to show people what we can do. This I thoroughly enjoyed, particularly the Crucible tour and watching the professionals of course.

“I think the WDBS has a fantastic energy about it. The people who make the organisation operational are very enthusiastic and driven which I really like. They are also very friendly and welcoming. With that kind of focus and vision who knows what’s possible in years to come. Hopefully there will be some sort of Olympics representation of the sports and a wider community of players and playing opportunities.

“I am very pleased to be a part of it and can see myself continuing to compete wherever I can.”

Next week we continue our look at the WDBS classification system as we turn to our group five classification, the third and final ambulant profile.