Tag: Nigel Mawer QPM

An Open Letter from Nigel Mawer QPM

With the end of 2020 almost upon us, WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer QPM has written an open letter to all of our players as we target a return to competition in 2021…

Dear Player,

As 2020 comes to a close I am writing to update you as to the current position and of our hopes and aspirations for a return to competition in the New Year.

This year has been one that none of us will ever forget due to the coronavirus pandemic and the impact that this has had upon all our daily lives. First and foremost, I hope that you and your families have been able to stay safe and well during this most unusual time.

Little did any of us know as we left Bruges back in March following a fantastic weekend of snooker at the Belgian Open that the event would be our last of the year, with the UK entering its first lockdown barely two weeks after the final balls were potted.

Following four fantastic years of growth, it has undoubtedly been frustrating for the whole WDBS team to see our progress paused as it has been this year. However, both the government restrictions in place – of which we are all familiar – and most importantly our primary concern of protecting you, our team and venue staff, have left us with no alternative but to suspend competition this year.

I would, however, like to reassure you that WDBS events will return and that as we head into 2021 I am pleased to report that there are reasons to be hopeful for the future. Most obviously, the approval of a vaccine for the virus within the UK represents a significant step towards a return to normality. Although it is very early days and will inevitably take time for this to be rolled out on a widespread basis, it is nevertheless a welcome development that we should celebrate.

Furthermore, the expected wider availability of lower cost COVID-19 testing, combined with the hope that restrictions will be relaxed over the coming months with spring and the warmer weather to come, will also help us. Our friends at World Seniors Snooker will in January hold the first open-entry amateur tournament across the WPBSA Group since the onset of the pandemic. That event will operate in a bubble environment with COVID-19 testing in place and the venue closed to the public during the event, a model that we will follow with interest.

You will no doubt appreciate the challenges faced not only by WDBS, but across amateur snooker and indeed amateur sport as a whole during this unprecedented situation. The current restrictions mean that it remains difficult to plan with certainty as to exactly when we will be able to return and it may be that initial tournaments will have run under a different format to be able to operate in a Covid-secure manner. Any major changes will of course be communicated through our Player Representatives.

But there is clear light at the end of the tunnel, and we will be back as soon as it is safe and viable to stage an event. I and the whole team are looking forward to seeing you again now more than ever.

I hope that all of you and your families enjoy a wonderful festive period and that we will see you back on the baize in 2021.

Nigel Mawer QPM

WDBS Chairman

Continued Growth for Disability Snooker

Disability snooker has made significant strides since the formation of World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) three years ago.

A subsidiary company of snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), WDBS has hosted regular weekend events including a mix of competitive tournaments and open days since 2015 for people with disabilities to enjoy snooker. Open to people with physical disabilities (wheelchair and ambulant), as well as learning and sensory disabilities including hearing and visual impairments, WDBS events aim to be as inclusive as possible.

Record entries

Through a combination of extensive promotion both through social media and local disability groups, as well as word of mouth from people who have enjoyed being involved at events, WDBS has seen significant growth in recent months. The WDBS Welsh Open in July saw an impressive 55 entries received for the weekend competition, a record subsequently shattered at the Fizz Open Disability Snooker Championship in September with over 80 players competing across the weekend.

As well as those participating in the weekend tournaments, WDBS has also welcomed several local disability groups to its Friday Open Days, with many people with disabilities given the opportunities to try snooker under the guidance of accredited WPBSA World Snooker coaches.

Through its close relationship with both the WPBSA and World Snooker, WDBS has been able to create new opportunities for players outside of its own events, for example to compete at able bodied tournaments on the World Seniors Snooker Tour and World Snooker Q School.

Players have also been able visit professional events, receiving backstage tours and the opportunity to meet their heroes and key figures in the sport, including international Paralympic broadcaster and snooker MC Rob Walker and former world professional champion Shaun Murphy who have both visited events.

The highlight comes each April at the professional World Championship in Sheffield when players are invited to be a part of the annual World Snooker Disability Day, Including an exclusive backstage tour of the Crucible Theatre and the chance to take part at ‘Cue Zone’ with the BBC presentation team.

Paralympic dream

The long-term ambition of WDBS remains to see snooker restored to its rightful place at the Paralympic Games. It is a little-known fact that snooker was one of the founding sports of the Paralympic Movement at Stoke Mandeville and was included at the Games as recently as 1988 in Seoul when the late Mick Langley claimed the gold medal.

Key to securing a Paralympic return is for WDBS to encourage greater international participation and there has been significant progress in achieving this goal in recent months.

Earlier this year WDBS held its inaugural Belgian Open, the first WDBS event outside of the UK as featured during the BBC’s coverage of this year’s professional World Championship in the spring. WDBS has also welcomed players from Hong Kong, Poland, Belgium and India to UK-based events in recent months with new enquiries being received on a regular basis.

Through its membership of the World Snooker Federation, snooker’s International Federation supported by the WPBSA, WDBS has established close relationships with approximately 50 national and regional federations across the globe. WDBS is keen to work with both other countries to host new disability tournaments and also to provide opportunities for disabled players to compete in major able-bodied tournaments.

China open day

Snooker has of course seen its most significant growth in the professional game in China over the past decade and earlier this year WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer and WPBSA Sport Development Manager Chris Hornby visited the China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities (CASPD) in Beijing to explore future partnership opportunities.

Following successful talks, a unique open day was held at Beijing’s WPBSA-CBSA World Snooker Academy in early August with the support of the Beijing Disabled Persons’ Federation, WPBSA, CBSA, and Beijing Rigour Culture & Media. More than 40 disabled people were given the chance to try snooker through fun activities and exercises arranged by CBSA coaches and WDBS will continue to work with its partners to provide further opportunities in the future.

“A sport for all”

Nigel Mawer, vice-chairman of the WPBSA has chaired WDBS since its formation in 2015 and Is proud of the growth that he has witnessed during that time.

“I am extremely proud of how WDBS has developed and grown over the past three years,” said Mawer. “I would like to thank every single player, parent/family member, carer, official and director who has helped and supported us on our journey this far. Although WDBS is still in its infancy as an organisation and we have a lot of work still to do to reach our ultimate goal of getting snooker back into the Paralympic Games, we have already come a long way since our first event in Gloucester.”

Mickey Chambers, Nigel Mawer QPM and Rob Walker stood smiling

It is however perhaps the coming years that are most exciting as WDBS looks to capitalise on the expansion it has witnessed so far.

“Our aims over the next few years are to grow the number of countries involved and add more international events to our existing calendar,” continued Mawer. “We see snooker as sport for all and WDBS will continue to raise the standards and create new opportunities for disabled players to challenge alongside any other player to compete as professionals. WDBS is also working hard to introduce grassroots projects internationally to develop the next generation of disabled snooker players. We are hoping to use technology in ambitious and innovative ways to remove barriers and bring players with disabilities together more easily. We have big plans and I am looking forward to see where we will be in another three years.”

Landmark Open Day Held in China

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) staged an Open Day at the WPBSA-CBSA World Snooker Academy in Beijing on Tuesday.

The event was attended by Nigel Mawer QPM, Chairman of the WDBS, Chris Hornby, Sports Development Manger of the WPBSA, as well as professional snooker coaches, disabled snooker fans and players.

The event was hosted by the China Administration of Sport for Persons with Disabilities (CASPD) and the WDBS. It was jointly organised by Beijing Disabled Persons’ Federation, WPBSA and CBSA, and supported by Beijing Rigour Culture & Media as well as the CBSA World Snooker Academy.

This is one of the rehabilitation fitness demonstration events organised by CASPD during the eighth Disability Fitness Week.

Officials from WDBS visited CASPD in Beijing in June to discuss potential cooperation projects, including this open day during CASPD disability week. This was supported by CBSA, who provided coaches for the day, and by Rigour Media who have allowed WDBS and CASPD to use their excellent facility in Beijing.

The theme of the day was to encourage disabled people, who may have never played the sport of snooker, to give it a try. More than 40 deaf and disabled people learned to play snooker through fun activities and exercises arranged by CBSA coaches.

One of the disabled fans said: “This is the first time I have participated in this kind of event and the experience was excellent. The environment is very good. Through the guidance of the coach, I have a deeper understanding of snooker. I hope there will be more events like this which allow more people to enjoy the unique fun of snooker.”

WDBS will work closely with CASPD and CBSA to look at longer term projects, potentially installing snooker tables at CASPD’s headquarters in the National Paralympic Training Centre in Beijing before branching replica projects out into other regions in China. It is hoped that this will generate enough competition to create National Championships for people with disabilities, who can then compete against other countries internationally. Rigour’s ball-tracking technology could even allow for long-distance competitions between British and Chinese disabled players.

WDBS has long term Paralympic ambitions and hopes to create opportunities for disabled people in China.

Media coverage

Major media outlets in Beijing gave the event significant coverage.

Disability Snooker Welcomed in China

Officials from World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) recently visited the China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities (CASPD) to explore future partnership opportunities.

Nigel Mawer QPM, chairman of WDBS and WPBSA Sport Development Manager Chris Hornby met with Mr Wu Secretary of the Party Committee for CASPD and his team at the Chinese Paralympic Training Facility in Beijing. During fruitful discussions the parties discussed the significant growth of WDBS since its formation less than three years ago and how both WDBS and the CASPD can work together in the future to develop disability snooker in China.

Established in August 2003 as a non-profit organisation, the CASPD is responsible for the organisation of national level sport activities for people with disabilities including the following:

  1. Preparing the National Paralympic Team for competition
  2. To move disabled people into the community
  3. Classification of athletes for Paralympics Games
  4. Educating athletes through links with Beijing University
  5. Maintaining and managing significant facility
  6. Preparations for 2022 Winter Olympic Games/Paralympic Games
  7. Staging international disabled sport events

It was provisionally agreed that both parties are to work together with support from the China Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) to stage an open day at the Rigour Academy in Beijing for people with disabilities to try snooker and receive coaching from CBSA and WPBSA accredited coaches. This is to take place during ‘Disability Week’ on the 7th August 2018 and will be the first project of its kind in the region.

WDBS and CASPD will also continue work together on longer-term initiatives to include the installation of both full-size and ‘Little Star’ snooker tables at the Beijing facility to create opportunities for people with disabilities to play snooker. This project aims to engage both those playing for recreational and rehabilitation purposes, as well as creating a pathway for elite talent to progress to competition play.

Rigour technology

During their recent time in China both Nigel Mawer QPM and Chris Hornby also visited the Rigour Snooker Academy in Beijing to discuss whether Rigour’s industry-leading technology could be used to assist the global development of snooker for people with disabilities.

Positive discussions and technology demonstrations took place and both WDBS and Rigour Tech will continue their cooperation over the coming months.

Joe Hardstaff plays snooker shot

Belgium Hosts Landmark WDBS Event

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) successfully staged its first-ever event outside of the UK last weekend in Belgium.

Held at The Trickshot in Bruges, the competition saw a mix of established WDBS players and local challengers come together for an event which represented another significant milestone for disability snooker globally.

There was a home victory in the wheelchair competition (Group 1-2) as Kurt Deklerck defeated Tony Southern 3-1 in the final to take the title.

Both players were in impressive form during the group stage, each winning three matches to progress to the showpiece match, but it was to be Deklerck’s day as the 22-time Belgian national champion emerged victorious to add his first WDBS crown to a personal CV which now boasts 114 snooker titles.

For the first time the event also saw a combined ambulant tournament staged for players from Groups 3-4, which saw Daniel Blunn come through to take a record fifth career WDBS event title with a 3-0 success against David Church.

Having dropped just one frame during the group stage, Blunn proved unstoppable in the knockout rounds as he underlined his position as the most successful WDBS player since the formation of the organisation back in 2015.

In the Challenge Cup competition for players who were unable to progress from the group stage of their respective competitions, there was a maiden victory for Danielle Findlay, who defeated Belgium’s Patrick Puttemans to take the gold medal.

The tournament was sponsored by 888lcd.co.uk, with all players and officials wearing the company logo on their waistcoats and branding prominently displayed around the venue. The event was also backed by the Hotel Velotel Bruges, which provided accommodation at a special rate for players competing in the event.

Club owner Olivier Vandenbohede and his team could not do enough to help the event and further support was also provided by leading World Snooker referee Olivier Marteel, who donned his white gloves to officiate during the weekend

The tournament also received extensive media support from IMG, who filmed a feature to be broadcast during the BBC’s coverage of this year’s professional World Championship next month, as well as regional news channel Focus WTV who interviewed players and officials during the weekend.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer QPM said: “We have been made to feel so welcome in the beautiful city of Bruges and were extremely impressed with the club and the support that we have received in staging this event.

“I would also like to thank everybody who has helped to make this event happen, with a special mention for one of our regular Group 7 players Robert Craft, who made the trip to referee, as well as Reg Davies who not only provided coaching during the weekend, but played a key role in identifying the club as a suitable venue for the tournament.

“Following the success of the weekend, we did not hesitate to agree for the WDBS Belgian Open to return to The Trickshot and so I am delighted to announce that the event will return on 8-10 March 2019.”

The next WDBS event will be the Paul Hunter Disability Classic for players with learning and sensory disabilities, to be held at the Cueball Derby on 18-20 May 2018. Entries for the event are now open, with full information and entry forms available HERE.