2017 NATION-CONTINENTAL CUP - A PREVIEW
A new, exciting and innovative event for international wheelchair pool rolls up this weekend with the inaugural Nation-Continental Cup.
Organised and hosted by the established British Wheelchair Pool Players Association (BWPPA), this 9 Ball Pool extravaganza is a 5 players a side team event that will pitch host nation Great Britain against Europe.
The unique 3 day event in Barnsley is an opportunity for some of the world's best wheelchair cueists to compete alongside each other in the popular 'Mosconi Cup' style pressure cooker environment. As well as the title, trophy, prize money and bragging rights, the spectacle will raise the profile of wheelchair pool which has already seen a number of big 9 Ball stars giving their stamp of approval.
On paper Team Europe begin as favourites given the incredible number of world and international accolades they have between them. The cosmopolitan line up is Henrik Larsson (Sweden, Captain), Jouni Tahti (Finland) Kurt Deklerck (Belgium), Fred Dinsmore (Republic of Ireland) and Emil Malanowski (Poland).
However, the event is not played on paper. The Home Team themselves are no strangers to lifting big trophies; team spirit, togetherness and the home advantage could well spur them on. Their set up consists of Roy Kimberley (Captain), Tony Southern, Aslam Abubaker, Daniel Lee and Dave Beaumont.
In true Mosconi Cup fashion the event will open up with a team game and is then followed by Scotch Doubles and Singles fixtures. The first team to reach 11 points wins the overall honour.
The atmosphere between the two camps has risen in recent weeks with statements of intent from both sides. Whilst everyone will still be friends after the championship, there is no doubt this is seriously competitive.
Kimberley, who is also the Chairman of the BWPPA, was the brainchild behind the Nation-Continental Cup.
He explained - "Yes, the event was my idea and I have put a huge amount of time, effort and passion into this it. I am a huge fan of the Mosconi Cup and I wanted to emulate this within the wheelchair game. The rules, format and set-up have been designed to be as close to the Mosconi Cup as possible. This event is the first of its kind to be held in Britain and if successful I hope it will become an annual event"
In regards to what both teams have expressed in the last few weeks, Kimberley added - "the banter is great and that's what makes this event so exciting.
We have known each other for many years and are friends on and off the table, but this event is different. Yes we're still friends, but we want to beat each other so badly it hurts.
There have been a few harsh statements published from both sides and both teams are feeling confident."
The GB captain is also not perturbed that his side go into the weekend having been labelled as the underdogs -"Team Europe are the favourites as they have multiple European and World Champions. However we are without doubt the strongest Nation in the world and I don't personally feel the gap in standards is anywhere near what the stats or the Europeans suggest."
In terms of what the Nation-Continental Cup means for all the players, Kimberley also said -
"It's an opportunity for the players to showcase their skills to a new audience which in turn will promote and empower them as individuals and an organisation moving forward. There will be the pride and passion of representing your Nation / Continent.
Sadly wheelchair pool isn't a Paralympic sport and the players on show this coming weekend have never had the level of exposure that our fellow Paralympian athletes receive. This will be an opportunity to show the internet world that wheelchair pool is hugely competitive, exciting and strong in the world of sport.
"I'm sure this weekend will have everything a true team event should have. Passion, atmosphere, excitement, highs and lows. My team are super confident that we can topple the might of Europe as I believe we have prepared better, want it more and have that great British spirit behind us."
Many of American Pool's top names have sent in video messages of support for the event and their respective teams - this includes BWPPA Patron Darren Appleton. Mosconi Cup walk on girl Jade Slusarczyk will also be present to add her special element of glamour to the proceedings.
Already a very busy time for those involved, the fourth tour stop of the 2017 BWPPA Tour 'The 2017 Kamui 9 Ball Shootout' will also be run during the weekend.
All the action will be streamed live on the internet at the following address; http://www.ustream.tv/channel/escapepool
Entry to the Escape Pool Bar in Barnsley is completely free and everyone is welcome; in fact we would urge you to come to the venue to make it an atmosphere to remember!
Play starts at 12noon on Friday. The Full schedule is available on the Nation-Continental Cup Facebook page.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 13th September 2017