Interview: The South West Snooker Academy - out of passion for snooker (part II)

17:55:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

Mr. Mount along with Stephen Lee,the ETPC 4 event winner
Yesterday I presented you the first part of a lovely interview with the South West Snooker Academy gang. Today, the story continues.....

So hosting the World Open pre-qualifying, constantly improving their playing facilities, offering “legendary snooker on bread” to all the snooker fans out there…what more was the SWSA going to amaze us with? Maybe staging a new ranking-event…let’s say the EPTC 4 event? You can betcha!

Although the ETPC 4 tournament was scheduled for Germany, due to lack of ticket sales and the concern that the event was not financially viable to go ahead in this country (this was the forth competition that would have been staged in Germany), World Snooker decided it would be a great idea if they would ask the SWSA to be the host. Mr. Mount gladly accepted this marking the moment when all the eyes were on the beautiful and brand new re-opened Snooker Academy from Gloucester.

The players all enjoyed playing at the Academy and were impressed with the facilities we can offer. It was great to see so many fantastic players playing in our Academy and only four months after we had opened. Now that the players and World Snooker have seen what we can offer, we would hope it would lead to more World Snooker events at the South West Snooker Academy.”, confessed Mr. Mount.

SL: You have a mighty “Pink Army” at your orders. :) How did the captain find his recruits?

PM: “The Pink Army now has 18 recruits and we are very happy with the mixture of experience and youth. We have a fantastic array of players and some very promising young talent. All of our players are players who approached me looking for a manager or to get involved with the Academy. We have a fantastic team spirit and I truly believe our team is full of talent and, just as importantly, honest and decent people who I enjoy working with.

The Pink Army
SL: And now is “bragging time”!!! How were the first eight months of life for the SWSA? Was “she” a well behaved “girl”?

PM: “The first 8 months of the Academy have been fantastic and we are really pleased to be able to look back at the events we have held there already.
We have had the Pink Ribbon, World Open Qualifier, Jimmy v Tony Exhibition and EPTC4! We already have lots of thing in the pipeline for 2011 including the second Pink Ribbon tournament to mark the anniversary of the Academy. At least this year's Pink Ribbon will be a little more relaxed with no worries of not being able to open!
We also have our new Q School Preparation Series which gives players the chance to win their £1000 Q School entry fee to be paid for them by us.

And since we are on this subject I think it is impetuously necessary to add that the common fee requested from every player that wants to enter this QSP (Q School Preparation) series has been reduced, from £500 to £350, in order to give everyone a fair chance during these hard times. The QSP series is basically an event designed to prepare snooker players more so they can obtain better results while entering the Q School (the new way of making it into the Main tour).

SL: I’m sure you’ve had a helping hand given by friends and people who are as passionate as you are about snooker, in putting this beautiful Academy together. Who would you like to thank?

PM: “Family are the obvious ones to thank as they have given their support unconditionally throughout the process. My daughter Sarah has been a great help and I have enjoyed sharing this experience with her and would like to thank her for all of the hours she has put into the Academy.

Family...always there for you
All of the builders who worked relentlessly to ensure the Academy was completed to the highest standard in time for the opening including the project manager and my good friend, John Redfern. Also, Colin Jones who worked tirelessly to ensure we were ready for the exhibition evening. All of the staff at MIUS (Mount Intrenational Ultrasound Services Ldt.) who have always given me their support in everything I do. Brandon Parker and Terry Griffiths were also a great support throughout the process which was much appreciated.

All of the On Q Promotions (Mr. Mount`s managing company) players and staff who have always given me their support-it is great to now see them using the facilities. Finally, to everyone who has visited the Academy as either a player or a spectator. We have been overwhelmed by the level of support in the first 8 months and we look forward to seeing many more snooker fans in the future.

A very important part, as Mr. Mount previously said, has been played by his lovely daughter, Sarah Mount a very ambitious and devoted person, whom I was lucky to have talked to.
She has a pretty amazing story for a girl her age (she’s only 27), working with her dad happening more as an accident rather then by a strong and determinate choice of hers.

As any teenager she was eager to gain her independency and fulfill her dreams so she started by going to Bournemouth University to study Retail Management but in her final year she realised she didn’t want a career in retail so she decided it is for the best to enter a Master program in TV production (her dream as a child). She worked very hard and got to play some small parts in productions such as “Big Brother” and “Britain’s got talent”, but somehow, at the end of the day she didn’t feel like this was it; plus, as she says “I was getting frustrated with the lack of opportunities”. But when God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window…so the inevitable happened and she started working with her dad.

Sarah`s NOT daddy`s little girl, but his right hand
I was offered to help my Dad out with office based work as I had a lot of free time and I could be flexible if any television work came up! Within a few months I was suggesting I have a contract and I've worked for Dad full time ever since-that was almost two years ago. Come to think of it, I'm not sure how much of a choice my Dad had in me following in his footsteps but I think we compliment each other well and I love my job and all of the people I work with-I am very lucky! When I really caught the buzz and decided to focus fully on snooker with my Dad as opposed to looking for freelance television work was after the 2009 Grand Prix. I spent several days there supporting Robert Milkins and I had such a great time that there was no question in my mind to what I wanted to do thereafter.

Although she is not what you would call a regular snooker player, being more a football lover (as she likes to describe herself) I don’t think I’m wrong, when I say that she is deeply devoted to the snooker business. She works beside her father and along with the whole team to provide the snooker players with the best facilities and try and help those who want to make it in the snooker industry.

As we all know from being an amateur player to being one who makes thousands of fans come to your matches it’s a pretty long way, practicing and giving it 100% being part of the plan. But for practice you need a place, a place where you can feel like home, a place that suits your needs, a place that also offers coaching and management for those in search of these types of things – this is where the SWSA kicks in.
Still, snooker is not just about the players, but also about the fans, the supporters that come to see their idols play and that’s why the SWSA took care of putting together a very friendly web-site, especially for those who want to keep an eye on what’s going on with snooker.

We are going to be providing exclusive features on the Academy and the players who practice there. Since the launch of the new site, we have hosted EPTC4 and we streamed two of the tables live for all three days of the main event and, except for a couple of small technical issues, it ran smoothly and visitors to our site were happy with the quality of both the stream and the snooker they got to watch.

The practicing tables at the SWSA
We ran an online advent calendar over Xmas where we tried to give visitors a small treat each day they visited. We featured Xmas themed interviews with the SWSA players, exclusive videos and pictures including photos of the SWSA players enjoying Xmas as children. This is something we are keen to build on and in the New Year; we will be providing exclusive features with the players away from the table. So many people feel there are no or few characters in the game these days but the truth is, it is difficult for players to show their character when they are focusing on playing their match. Believe me, there are some right characters based at the Academy!

Overall, the website will be the place to visit for news on the Academy and an insight into the Academy players' lives on and off the table.” said Sarah

The “Pink family” of the SWSA is very passionate about snooker, there’s no doubt of that, and it was proved big time for the last eight months. It was hard, it was easy, it was fun, it was a nightmare but in the end it was a dream come true and this dream put a very important brink on “Snooker’s back baby!” wall. That wall which needs all the help it can get in order to become bigger and stronger, so snooker will finally enjoy its long and partially forgotten period of glory.

I started this article with a quote and I’m going to end it with another, this time one of Nelson Mandela’s. He said: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that’s less than the one you are capable of living”.
Paul Mount knows what he wants from life, he had a dream, he has worked for it, he has gave it 100% of his heart and soul, he fought back even when things looked against him and he will definitely do it again if the circumstances require it. He wasn’t afraid of starting from zero, he has embraced change with its ups and downs, and he has stood still and has kept on going until the South West Snooker Academy was ready to open its arms to the players.

A champion doesn`t give up!!!
Commitment? Indeed. Believing in you and in others? Always the key. Strength? Required. Passion? That’s what makes the difference.

The SWSA story is the story of a “non-giving up” strategy practiced by Mr. Mount and his whole team. Not giving up even when the snooker business is not as popular as before, not even the economic rises is reaching its apogee, not even when people rise their eyebrows at your projects, not even when the entire world is watching you stage a EPTC event and the streaming goes down (although you double checked the signal the day before) so you find a last minute solution and keep the viewers entertain by streaming from your iphone! You just don’t give up!

SL: If you were to start all over again, would you do it the same way?

PM: “Without Doubt! I am delighted with the Academy and there is not one thing I would change.

If you want to know more about the SWSA, please pay them a visit in Gloucester, or just visit thier lovely web-site ;-)