SIBU: There was clearly some glamour, glitter and deserving applause for the recent Swan City Invitational Snooker Championship. However, there was also a certain disappointment written on the face of the organisers.
They had hoped to see more promising youngsters emerging as the next generation of players.
Unfortunately, it was not to be as the same old guards continued to dominate and rule the podium.
Still, the display of power, sharpness and agility of a few young players like 32-year-old Hardy Carloss did provide a little hope for the future.
Hardy started his snooker basics in Kuala Lumpur during his students days and returned to Kuching with ambitions to rule the podium one day.
During the Swan City Invitational he threw everything in and managed to qualify for the semi-final before losing 3-4 to Tan in a closely fought battle.
“It was a tense fight and unfortunately, I lost to Tan, my ‘sifu’ (master). I really want to win this time because I want to build a new era and create a new image for the development of snooker in Sarawak.
“But what to do? I have tried my best and still luck is not on my side. Hopefully, I will return next time better prepared,” he told The Borneo Post after his exit.
The sport has also yet to see the best from another youngster Edmund Bong from Kuching. He missed the tournament due to a clash with other activities.
The 28-year-old businessman was on a roll during the Kuching Open and much is expected from him.
The presence of the four Brunei national players did add spice to the tournament.
Then there are the seasoned players, notably Rolando Lim, Mark Yeo, Steven Wong and Christopher Yii, who gave their strong support in making the sport relevant.
Yeo, who is also Swan City Recreation Club Sibu president, expressed satisfaction over the performance of the players and the staging of the championship.
For the record, this was also the first time that Malaysian Snooker & Billiards Federation (MSBF) secretary general Iskandar Perwira Putra Abdullah Sanggura flew all the way here to witness the event.
“His presence alone should easily upgrade the tournament to a higher level,” Yeo said.
On the standard of the play, Yeo noted that the players showed improvement in potting skills with more breaks of over 25 points to 35 points recorded.
He, however, conceded that the standard is still several rungs below that of players from Peninsular Malaysia.
“Of course, what we need is more competition so as to raise the standard of the players. Without any proper coach, that is why the need to come up with more tournaments state-wide,” he suggested.
There is no Sarawak state coach in the sport and almost all the players are on their own, forking out their own expenses and training on their own initiative.
While Yeo agreed that Sarawak Billiards & Snooker Sports Federation (SBSSF) “alone cannot do much”, he also admitted that the state body is also not really doing its job.
As such, he hoped the snooker associations in the various divisions just have to buck up and made an effort to organise tournaments.
“Only through the staging of more competitive competition can we upgrade the sport and also ensure that the sports remain relevant.”
Yeo said snooker nowadays was not like the old days when it was associated with gangsterism.
“Snooker as a sport has come clean in various aspects. There is already an all-round improvement in many areas, such as the wearing of attire by the player and the behaviour and attitude of the players during the championship. All these augur well for the development of the sport.”
Yeo also called for more youngsters to take up the sport.
Recently, he took the initiative to stage the inaugural National Referee Course conducted by Iskandar.
Eight local players attended and all graduated with the certificates.
“The eight are now qualified referees sanctioned by MSBF and they could referee at any matches throughout the country. With more qualified referees, naturally we are looking for more tournaments.
“Together, we can make things happen,” said Yeo on a hopeful note.