Sunday 22 September 2019

Making early start to create a snooker star

Weird Wide World of Sport

Ronnie O’Sullivan says snooker is becoming a ‘nothing type sport’
Ronnie O’Sullivan says snooker is becoming a ‘nothing type sport’

Dave Devereux

The young fella got an early birthday present of a snooker table during the week.

He's almost five now so it's about time that he started to pay his way.

The plan is he can start out by winning a few local pool tournaments, maybe earning a turkey and ham or two to sort the family out for Christmas dinner, before eventually paving a glittering career for himself in the lucrative world of professional snooker.

Obviously it's not a full size table, the dimensions are four and a half by two and a half feet, or something along those lines, so despite my limited ability yours truly is whizzing around the table thinking I'm Jimmy White in his pomp, potting balls from all angles.

Thankfully the chap, and the six-year-old daughter for that matter, have developed a love for the game quicker than a Ronnie O'Sullivan 147 break, with the young fella even going as far as dragging me out of bed at seven in the morning so he can play a frame or two before heading off to school.

I fear he might be coming a little bit obsessed with it and is seeing the green baize and snooker balls of various hues in his sleep, but it certainly beats staring zombie-like at a tablet, television screen or some other electronic device.

As any parent will tell you, the winter can be a tough time of year to keep the chislers occupied and entertained. The summer holidays may seem long and daunting but at least they can be shuffled outside once the rain isn't pelting from the sky.

There's always a ball to be kicked, a hurl to be swung or a trampoline to be bounced on, but at this time of year when it's dark most of the time indoor activities are the name of the game.

The youngest was drawn to snooker from an early age - even when he was only about six months old he used to stare at the brightly coloured balls on the screen and a wonderful calm would come over him.

It was a great discovery, considering I'm partial to watching a bit of snooker on the box myself, but if UK Championship runner-up Ronnie O'Sullivan is to be believed the sport will struggle to stay afloat in its current guise.

During the week the talented Londoner claimed snooker is becoming a 'nothing type sport', comparing it to a 'car boot sale', while saying the likes of golf and Formula 1 are light years ahead and are more comparable to 'shopping in Harrods'.

O'Sullivan believes the quality of snooker is suffering as there are too many events in the diary and he wasn't overly flattering in his appraisal of some of the players plying their trade in the sport.

'There are a lot of players I watch out there and they can't play. That's no disrespect, they just can't play. They are never going to be good enough,' he said.

It mightn't sound disrespectful to Ronnie, but it certainly does to me. I see where he's coming from regarding the dilution of quality - maybe the number of events where the top players go head to head should be increased.

Tournaments involving the top 16 or 32 players in the world would obviously be more likely to pull in the crowds, but the hard-working journeyman struggling to earn a few quid also needs to be catered for.

The highly-decorated O'Sullivan is at a stage in his career where understandably he doesn't want or need to be traipsing to the four corners of the earth to pick up scraps of prize money and ranking points, but not everyone is fortunate enough to be blessed with his natural flair for the game.

If Ronnie gets his way and the amount of players on the circuit is cut, the young fella will really have to be on top of his game to make it in the professional ranks.

I'm just going to have to set the alarm clock and drag him out of the bed at six in the morning to get a few extra frames in before school.

Practice makes perfect.

Wexford People

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