Monday, 26 December 20112011 Report from WPA President Ian Anderson
While it is always good to start with good news, on this occasion it would be remiss of me not to start this report with sad news, and I refer here to the demise of a colleague and friend, Peter Hawley, who passed away on September 4, 2011.
Peter was a character larger than life, and was always able to put a positive spin on even the most negative subject. He undoubtedly possessed a great passion for the game, and was an ever-willing and untiring worker for the betterment of billiards. He served as WPA Vice President, Treasurer and Board member of the WCBS where he was also the WADA representative. His dedication and friendship is something that is to be sorely missed. He is survived by his wife Priscilla, two children and two grandchildren, one of which he was totally possessed by, the other unfortunately came along just before his passing and he never had the opportunity to see her. May he now rest in peace.
Now for the good news. One of the WPA’s main driving goals is to grow the sport of pool by increasing playing and earning opportunities for players worldwide. As 2011 draws to a close I am pleased to report that we have had a very full year with a record number of events, as well as a record year of prize money paid to players. The WPA held fourteen ranking events in 2011, eight for men and six women, which included five world championships for prize money, plus other world championships for juniors, boy and girl divisions, wheelchair athletes and artistic Pool.
Prize money continued to soar along with the increased number of tournaments. WPA ranking events offered more than $2 million in prize money, $1.85m of it added money. This, plus the prize money from other sanctioned events that did not carry ranking points, the total prize money was well in excess of $2,500,000. Given these financially difficult times globally, this is a result that surely bodes well for the sport of pool as we head into a new year.
I would like to congratulate and mention all 2011 world champions, Dennis Orcullo(8 Ball), Yukio Akagariyama(9 Ball), Huidji See(10 Ball), Zhu Qing Bi(Women’s 9-Ball), Kelly Fisher(Women’s 10-Ball), Marek Kudlik(World 9-Ball Juniors), Oliwia Czuprynska(World 9-Ball Juniors, Girls), Jounu Tahti(Wheelchair) and Andy Segal(Artistic Pool.)
A new initiative this year was the introduction of an annual “Player of the Year” award. The award is given to the player who accumulates the most ranking points in a calendar year. The inaugural winners were Dennis Orcullo PHI and Chen Siming CHN. Both players will receive a beautiful Tag Heuer watch.
Keeping with our commitment to more playing opportunities and more payouts, the WPA introduced a new idea when we sponsored a tournament in Manila for players where there was a week’s break between tournaments in the Philippines. The reason for this was rather than leave the players with a decision of whether to travel home and back a week later for the next event, or have to face hotel expenses for the week, the WPA decided to make some funds available so the players could have an opportunity to keep their game in shape, plus hopefully earn some money to help with the expenses they faced.
I am also happy to report another achievement for our sport. This year is the first time that Pool (and Snooker) has been on the program of the Arab Games which was played in Doha, Qatar. This inclusion has come about from the efforts of the WPA to encourage development of our sport in that particular part of the world, where pool is growing by leaps and bounds. Two of our world championships, the men’s 8-Ball (Fujairah UAE) and 9-Ball (Doha, Qatar) are being hosted in the Middle East. And more events are being talked about for this region of the world. There is a good chance that we may even see an extra ranking event in 2012.
We have also upgraded our website(www.wpa-pool.com) and coverage of events this year and this has resulted in a big response from pool fans seeking tournament news. Well known pool journalist and TV commentator Ted Lerner has been offering great on-the-scene coverage with insightful and entertaining articles offered throughout each championship. We have even started a Twitter account(@poolwpa). The result of our expanded media coverage has seen the number of fans following WPA events soar to new heights. 2012 will see even wider coverage of WPA events.
All indications are that 2012 will be another good year for the WPA. We are happy to note that Korea will host a ranking event for the first time with divisions for both men and women. At this stage there will not be a Beijing Open, but there will be another event to take its place in a different part of China. Extra ranking events for both men and women are also likely with final negotiations currently in progress.
In the main I am very pleased with the progress and direction of WPA as the trajectory of the professional game continues to move in a positive, upward direction. As with any undertaking involving nearly 200 countries and having to organize professional events on global basis, there will always be setbacks, as well as critics and complaints. One can never please everyone but rest assured, the WPA is open to constructive criticism and new ideas. We will, however, remain steadfast in our goal; to provide more playing and earning opportunities for players all over the world.
As we are at the end of the year, I would like to thank my colleagues who helped so much throughout 2011. In closing I wish each and everyone all the very best for a merry and safe Festive Season, with a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to follow.