FERGAL O’Brien and Martin Gould were pressed into service spreading the gospel of snooker in Shanghai on a visit to Huimin Middle School.

The educational establishment already boasted a magnificent cuesports facility with around eight full-size snooker tables and over a dozen pool tables.

And Ireland’s O’Brien, along with Gould and WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson, quickly began encouraging the youngsters to get involved with some demonstration and coaching sessions featuring many of the 1,200 students aged between 12 and 18.

O’Brien said: “It is fantastic to see the facilities here, brilliant snooker tables and pool tables as well, and to see so many boys and girls of all different ages playing and having a lot of fun is amazing. It was a like a really good snooker club but in a school.

“I played a few of the kids, and they were very good, the standard was high especially considering how young they were so I’m sure there were future champions out there somewhere.

“We can offer a bit of advice, taking your time and not cueing so fast can help as you rush sometimes when you are nervous, but the main thing at this age is just to enjoy it.”

The experience clearly inspired 'running man' O’Brien, regularly seen pounding the streets during the week despite the high humidity. He later chalked up an impressive 5-1 first-round win over Rob Milkins.


Photograph courtesy of World Snooker