A BASINGSTOKE company that supplies commercial drivers is helping to put the south’s snooker loopy youngsters on the road to success.
Concerns about the number of children with cues in their hands nowadays led Professional Driving Agency boss Paul Bateman to sponsor the Cuestars organisation.
The 45-year-old said: “Since returning to the sport after a 24-year break, I joined The Crucible Sports & Social Club in Newbury and was quite surprised that the amount of kids involved in the game now has completely faded away.
“Every thirteen years we would see a naturally gifted player hit the scene, starting with Alex Higgins then onto Jimmy White and now Ronnie O’Sullivan (pictured). But they don’t seem to be coming through so the sponsorship is really to help get some interest back and try to get children involved in the game.”
Now in its fourth year, the Professional Driving Agency supplies HGV and van drivers to companies requiring temporary or full-time placements mainly in the Andover area.
Cuestars holds junior sessions at clubs across the south and runs tournaments for under-21s, seniors (40+) – which Bateman plays in – and an open tour for top amateur players.
Bateman started playing snooker in the early 1980s and competed in pro-ams and ranking events across the UK. In August, 1987, he entered an under-19 tournament at Handy’s Snooker Club in Greenwich, London, alongside Peter Ebdon, Barry Pinches, Mark King and a 12-year-old O’Sullivan.
But he stopped in 1990 and didn’t pick up his cue again until 2014.
Following his return to the snooker scene, Bateman has been involved with Jason Francis and the Snooker Legends tour.
“It’s good to not only get a free ticket to some outstanding shows but to see the joy that the players such as Ronnie, Jimmy and Judd (Trump) can bring to the game and the audiences,” he said.
For more information, visit www.professionaldrivingagency.com.
Ronnie O’Sullivan picture by Chelcie Bateman
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By Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)