Right On Cue! – The UK Wheelchair Snooker Championships
Stephen Harrison is hoping to make a clean break with his current project the ‘UK Wheelchair Snooker Championship’.
The former professional snooker player is organising the event in honour of his father, Ray Harrison who won a gold medal in the 1985 World Paraplegic Snooker Championships.
Stephen is the founder of SHA (Stephen Harrison Academy) which is an innovative social enterprise hoping to use the game of snooker to entertain, develop and nurture a wide array of disadvantaged groups from all backgrounds. After numerous successful events and participation, disability snooker as a sport began to tail off, as it stands there are no snooker events in the UK aimed at wheelchair users. Stephen wants to change this and kick-start disability snooker again – he told Exposed, “I am working hard to get this sport recognised, as I believe everyone should have the chance to play the game of snooker.” The event is currently planned to take place on April 27th, but the Academy are looking to find sponsorship for the events.
Growing up as a child, Stephen was able to view first-hand the benefits that disabled snooker brought to numerous people – "Back in the 1980’s there were many snooker tournaments that disabled snooker players could enter. I want to bring those days back. My dad was such an inspiration to me, he taught me the sport and never lost his enthusiasm, ambitions and hopes, no matter what setbacks he experienced."
Now we at Exposed love a bit of tricky cueing, in fact our esteemed editor fancies himself as a bit of a Ronnie O’Sullivan (or Ronnie Corbitt) – when we got wind of Stephen’s plans we got in touch for a bit of a chinwag, so we could chalk up (apologies) some of the plans he had for the future.
Stephen, what was your main inspiration behind this event?
My father was paraplegic world champion in 1985, Currently there are no events for wheelchair snooker players and I want to kick start the sport again, many people have been in touch with me asking if I can do this. I have been working with various groups in Sheffield and now I want to further the sport around the UK, after being a snooker player for 12 years I now want to bring snooker to the whole community.
Who is the event aimed at and how can people get involved?
Anyone who is in a wheelchair registered disabled can enter the event, people can get involved by emailing me or alternatively they can give me a call on 07864046826.
What is your vision for the future of disability snooker?
I have a plan and that is to run the event in April, Then approach other countries to gain interest in running a world championships, and then I will propose to the Inter-nation Paralympic committee (IPC) to have snooker reinstated in the table of events in Rio 2016. This will be a big job but I have the passion to do this and I would like to think my father would have been proud of me, I have already put in place an exploratory meeting with world snooker association (WSA) – which went well and they are interested in supporting my ideas of grassroots snooker.
What would you say to any budding snooker players who feel a disability may hamper their chances at excelling in the sport?
After seeing my father compete in the paraplegic world championships many years ago, he astounded me. He never let anything let him down, he used to say whatever you do in life have a smile on your face and never give in.
My goal is to give everyone a chance to play the wonderful game of snooker.
This is a very exciting prospect for all snooker lovers, and it is clear to see that the project is in safe hands with Stephen's passion as a driving force. We should reiterate that SHA are seeking sponsorship to ensure the events can fulfil their huge potential. Sheffield is the home of world snooker and we can all do out bit to raise awareness and help Stephen score a perfect 147. Who knows? We could be cheering on some of his protégés in Rio 2016!