New snooker academy aims to attract world’s best players

By Ben Housam @benhousam

A brand new snooker academy in the heart of Sheffield is hoping to attract the sport’s elite players during the World Championships.

Victoria’s Snooker Academy in St. James’ House in the city centre opened two weeks ago and is home to 5 professional players, as well as being managed by 1995 World Championship finalist Nigel Bond.

Nigel, 50, has seen first hand how Sheffield benefits from hosting the World Championships and hopes the academy will thrive during this year’s event in April.

He said: “The fact that we are literally 2-3 minutes walk away from The Crucible is a massive benefit. We’ll get people popping in whilst they’re visiting the World Championships and some players who have a couple of days off might prefer to practice a little bit longer and it’s a stone’s throw for them to come up and play.

He added: “The city comes alive for the two weeks it’s on – all the hotels and restaurants are full. It’s fantastic.”

The Crucible has hosted the Snooker World Championships since 1977 and is a short walk from Victoria’s Snooker Academy
The Crucible has hosted the Snooker World Championships since 1977 and is a short walk from Victoria’s Snooker Academy

 

The academy has already seen a number of established professionals pass through its doors and will officially open the ‘Stephen Hendry room’.

The private coaching facility is due to be opened by the seven time World Champion himself next month.

A number of upcoming Chinese players practice at the academy, including Zhao Xintong who will be playing in the main tour next season.

Nigel said: “When I look at him he’s like a young Judd Trump. I think he’s a fantastic prospect for the future.”

Snooker popularity in China has grown rapidly over the last few years, largely thanks to Sheffield based Ding Junhui, currently ranked 12th in the world.

Nigel believes the global nature of the sport is encouraging but dismissed the idea that the World Championships would move away from Sheffield any time soon.

Listen to what he told ShefNews on the matter here: 

 

However, the academy is not purely for the elite – anyone can book one to one coaching with Nigel, who turned professional in 1989.

As for himself, coaching is very much the focus now.

“If the academy takes off I’ll be busy with that and coaching as well. It could be my last World Championships. Snooker’s been good to me and in this role I’m still doing something I enjoy because I love the game.”

 

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