The Chinese invasion

China has in recent years become a hotbed of snooker. The Chinese people have embraced the game and brought the sport into their culture and schools. The ethos of starting young is prevalent across the country and snooker is part of the Chinese school curriculum. Unlike the United Kingdom that has sadly ignored the youth market for many years due to underinvestment and the mass closure of snooker clubs, China is constantly striving to produce a new Ding Junhui. This is born out when you watch snooker on television and often see players under the age of 18 competing.

The pioneer for Chinese snooker Ding Junhui

The recent victory for Yan Bingtao in Riga, shows that the Chinese talent on the circuit is slowly bubbling to the surface. Many of these players who were produced in China now reside in the United Kingdom, living in places such as Sheffield where there is an academy. These young men or often teenagers come to this country knowing little or no English and met by a culture that is very different from their own. However the common language is snooker and honing those skill on a daily basis allows them to create that wonderful art form on the baize.

One such base of youth snooker in China is the World Snooker College in Beijing, here pupils swap textbooks and school uniforms for sportswear and snooker tables. The teaching dissects the game, stripping away each layer and teaching the pupils practically and visually. Dressed in sweatshirts and baggy jogging bottoms these potential champions practice and play snooker for eight hours a day.

Yan Bingtao the newly crowned Riga Masters Champion

Described  as “a gentleman’s sport”, pressure has been building on World Snooker for some time to move the World Championship to China, however this pressure has been resisted by the snooker governing body, even blocking a similar event being staged in China. Instead the UK based powers that be think China should create its own history, citing the fact that five major tournaments are already staged there in the current snooker calendar.

It is clear from this analysis in this piece that so much more needs to be done to cultivate youth talent in this country. Great works is done already by such institutions as the Northern Snooker Centre and Dunstable snooker club to attract the youth of today to the sport and coach them to a standard that they could turn professional but in order to get to the same level as China, the bar must be raised. Otherwise it will only be a matter of time before Chinese players dominate the sport. This clearly would be a sad state of affairs as there is so much potential in this country yet barriers prevent them from flourishing.

3 stars from the Uk pictured below that all have very bright futures.