Is amateur snooker trapped in a dystopian trance?

Unless we have a vision of what the world of amateur snooker could look like, we won’t be able to reach it and I believe we must have the courage to be idealistic.

Martin Luther King Jr taught us that any movement will fail if it cannot paint a picture of a world that people will want to go to.

Over the last couple of years, while creating Snooker Hub, I have repeatedly heard the view that the amateur game in the UK is dying and the inevitable consequence being that China will take over as the leading snooker nation. Many of the old school players are saying “there is no young talent coming through” – but is this one of those self-fulfilling prophecies?

Thinking about this type of future conjures up images of clubs with tables for 8 Ball, 9 Ball and Chinese 8 Ball but sadly lacking in snooker tables. A post-Hearn dystopia stripped of snooker.

We haven’t fallen into this trance overnight. It has emerged slowly, fuelled by the social media images of pool players smiling over a table covered in cash. It’s all too easy to see why youngsters would think “I want some of that” rather than dreaming of lifting the world snooker championship trophy after a gruelling couple of weeks in a bow tie.

I don’t think we can blame social media for this, but rather we should be looking to harness this power for the good of amateur snooker.

The advent of the internet and the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, et al, now means that we have access to as much information as we can handle.

* Information about tournaments for all ages and abilities is more readily available than ever

* Details of clubs, coaching schemes, kids clubs etc are all at one’s fingertips

* Coaching videos abound on YouTube

* Facebook and Twitter provide the opportunity to make friends – worldwide

It would be foolish to think we can go back to the heyday of snooker – we need to create a vision for the future. A future where young talent is nurtured, clubs are inclusive and success is rewarded.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

The Challenge Tour is seen by many as the start of what could be a new era for amateur snooker. And along with the Partnership model, as per the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards (EPSB) and the 147 Club, there are opportunities for clubs to improve their facilities and the image of the game.