Tag: Kal Mattu

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.

Image of snooker balls

Watch: New WDBS Video

Watch our new video as we hear from some of our World Disability Billiards and Snooker players about their stories and their experiences at WDBS events.

The video features Mickey Chambers, Robert Craft, Kal Mattu, Niteshk Chavda, Lee Finbow, Lewis Knowles, Christof Niklaus, William Thomson and interpreter Yvonne Thomas.

Thank you to Jamie Hyde for his hard work both filming and producing this video for us.

Watch below or via the WPBSA YouTube channel HERE.

WDBS Classification Guide: Group Three

Today we continue our journey through the World Disability Billiards and Snooker classification system, used to determine which players are eligible to play in each WDBS event.

This week we look at the group three profiles, the first group which includes 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 3 (profiles 12-14, 16, 26, 31-32)

Profile 12: Able to walk, but has severe difficulty controlling all four limbs when performing an activity.

Profile 13: Able to walk, but has poor use of three limbs.

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 16: One upper limb is severely impaired.

Profile 26: Able to walk, but has moderate difficulty controlling all four limbs when performing an activity.

Profile 31: Both legs severely impaired, both arms moderately impaired.

Profile 32: Both arms severely impaired, both legs moderately impaired.

Group three is the first of three groups for ambulant players (i.e. players able to walk), who have other physical disabilities. The group is made up of five disability profiles (12-13, 26 & 31-32), plus a further two ‘either/or’ profiles (14 and 16).

Players falling under these two profiles without orthosis/appliances will be assigned to group three, whereas those with orthosis/appliances compete in different groups.

At the WDBS events held so far, group three players have competed together exclusively in competitions. Of the three ambulant groups, players classified as group three are the most affected by their disability when playing across all groups

Player view

We have a number of regular group three players at WDBS events, none more so than Kal Mattu and Daniel Blunn who have attended each of our three events so far, either in a playing or support capacity.

Blunn, who hails from Sutton Coldfield and has cerebral palsy, was a winner at the inaugural Open Disability Snooker Championship in Gloucester last year and also made the final of the group three competition at the Manchester Open.

He was only four years old when he first came across snooker, before he began to play on a full-size table at the age of 10:

“I went to the Tamworth Snooker Centre and started to play a number of junior players at the time,” said Blunn. “I really enjoyed it and it went from there. I played Jimmy White when I was 11 in an exhibition as the most improved junior (managed to beat him on the black actually), and I’ve played in a number of tournaments since.”

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A real student of the game who has in the past worked with SightRight’s Steve Feeney and more recently enjoyed coaching from qualified WPBSA World Snooker coaches at WDBS events, Blunn still loves snooker as much as he ever has.

“The most positive aspect of playing snooker for me is that first of all it is an enjoyable sport. There is plenty of scope for improvement and where you can progress in the game. There is something in it for everybody. I’m privileged to be able to play in these tournaments.

“It is also a great way for me to be able to shut off from work. It gives me enjoyment and targets to see where I can progress to. It’s like a bit of me time, it gives me a life away from work.”

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Blunn has been competing in tournaments for a number of years, but has welcomed the launch of the WDBS and the events that have been held during its first year. He has also been a part of related activities including visits to the World and UK Championship and was also able to complete the WPBSA’s level one coaching course earlier this year.

“I think the events so far have been excellent,” added Blunn. “The great thing about them is how competitive they are. At the first one at Gloucester for example, you could just see the intensity on everybody’s faces.

“You could also see how well-run the event was and just what a great venue it was. You could see that it was the start of something big. Everybody is competitive but there is also space for us to get along, there is no bad blood anywhere or animosity between anyone.

“I think that the WDBS has also got me involved in other things which have been really nice. I got to go to the Crucible for a day, to complete my level one coaching course and have watched professional snooker in the arena. All of this has come from the WDBS, especially with the TV feature early on in Gloucester which has really put us on the map.”

Blunn

And now Blunn is looking forward to the defence of his title in Gloucester when the WDBS returns for the 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship in October:

“It is going to be great to see if I can defend my title in Gloucester. Whatever happens I’ve won it so I’ve got that one in the history books, but defending it would be nice. Let’s see what I can do, it’s certainly going to be an interesting one!”

You can learn more about the English Federation of Disability Sport and their recently launched #TogetherWeWill campaign to help encourage disabled people to become more active.

Next week we look at our group four classification, the second of the three ambulant groups.