All players please see below letter from our chairman Nigel Mawer QPM regarding the latest developments at World Disability Billiards and Snooker which will affect players from all eight classification groups:
As we celebrate our third ‘birthday’ as an organisation I am writing to you to thank you for your continued support and participation in World Disability Billiards and Snooker tournaments.
The growth that we have witnessed since our inaugural tournament in Gloucester back in 2015 has been incredible to be a part of and it has been a real pleasure to meet so many wonderful people during this journey.
All of us on the team have all learned so much during the past three years and we remain as committed as ever to the organisation of these events and maintaining our long-term goal of taking snooker back to the Paralympic Games for the first time since 1988.
As we look ahead I am today pleased to be able to confirm a number of changes that we have discussed as a board and with players in recent months.
These will be introduced from the start of the Open Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton at the end of September, except for the Group 6 changes will will apply from the upcoming Humber Classic.
As we continue to professionalise our events we are now keen to see players looking as smart as possible when competing at WDBS events.
We therefore now require at our full-weekend tournaments that all players are to wear a long sleeved collared shirt, trousers and smart shoes. A tie will be optional.
We would also like players to wear a waistcoat unless for any reason your disability means that this is not possible. If you have any concerns about this then please contact us to discuss this directly.
We believe that this change will be positive for the professional image of our tournaments, in particular as we move towards the live streaming of matches and greater media exposure.
Please note that this does not apply to one-day Group 6 events, at which a polo shirt and trousers will be acceptable.
There remains no dress code for our Friday open days.
No specific changes are currently proposed for Groups 1-5 classification, however we are currently reviewing both wheelchair and ambulant profiles to determine whether the existing system is both as fair and easy to understand as it can be.
In particular, following player feedback we are reviewing whether due to the nature of the sport ambulant players with upper body disabilities should be grouped differently to those with lower body disabilities.
Any proposed changes will be circulated for consultation prior to any implementation at an event.
Following feedback received from players and other interested parties we will be implementing the following changes to our events for players with learning disabilities.
WDBS aims to be as inclusive as possible and so has allowed people that would not fit Paralympic/International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS) criteria to compete in our events. We do not wish to exclude those who fall outside of these criteria, however in the interests of promoting fair competition we have taken the decision to now split Group 6 into two sections as follows:
All participants in this group will be expected to have either their parent/legal guardian/carer/headteacher, or a recognised learning disability professional specialist, sign a declaration that the following will be provided upon request.
If there are low entries at an event, both groups may be combined into a single tournament with players group 6A receiving a points start when playing against those from 6B.
Following consultation with players both using social media and at our players meeting in Derby attended by Craig Crowley MBE who has considerable experience in deaf sport, we have decided that we must formalise our requirements for Group 8 players as set out within the WDBS classification system.
Our long-term goal is to take snooker back to the Paralympics and other multi-sport Games and only by making these changes will we continue to progress and to be taken seriously by other deaf sport organisations.
Group 8 players must now provide an audiogram showing a loss of hearing of 55 decibels in the better ear at frequencies 500Hz, 1000Hz, and 2000Hz. This is in accordance with the Audiogram Regulations set out by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, adopted by Deaflympics that can be accessed HERE.
This must be provided before the closing date of the event that you wish to enter, following which the information will be kept on our records for future events.
Your audiogram must be dated within the past 12 months and will be valid for a period of two seasons. For example for players entering the Open Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton, they must provide an audiogram no older than September 2017 and this will be valid until the end of the 2019/20 season.
In accordance with section 6 of the Audiogram Regulations linked above, players must take off any hearing aids during the course of a match:
“RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL COMPETITORS
6.1.The individual competitor solely carries the full responsibility to ensure he/she is not wearing any hearing aid(s)/amplification or external cochlear implant parts during the warm-up and competition within the restricted zone area.
6.2.All athletes will not be allowed to wear any hearing aid(s)/amplification or external cochlear implant parts upon entering any contest or competition venues. All athletes must remove hearing aid(s)/amplification or external cochlear implant parts during the last training prior to competitions.”
Although this will be enforced at the table during a match, to assist communication players will be permitted to use hearing aids at all other times at the venue.
We understand that the removal of hearing aids during play has caused significant debate previously, however in order that we can fairly judge the impact of this change we have decided that this will be enforced until the end of the current 2018/19 season when it will be reviewed.
Hearing aids may however be worn at the Parris Cues Champion of Champions as players were permitted to during the qualification period.
Following feedback from players, in particular Group 8 players due to the removal of hearing aids during play, we have decided that going forward at each WDBS event there will be a safety officer appointed. This officer will ensure that the venue is safe at all times, for example that all accessways are clear and accessible.
The safety officer at each event will be clearly identifiable and named during the player’s meeting at the start of any tournament. If you have any concerns at any event players are encouraged to contact the safety officer in the first instance.
As always, we continue to welcome all constructive feedback and we will review the effect of these changes on an ongoing basis following each event.
During the Open Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton we will also be available from at least 3:00pm-4:00pm to discuss any concerns that you may have and to listen to your feedback.
Thank you all once again for your support and I look forward to seeing you soon.