Snooker is not an “evil” sport, says women’s world champion, Ng On-yee. She says players need to have a wide range of skills, including mental strength, good technique and the ability to quickly assess a situation, to succeed in the sport.
“Snooker is a healthy sport, but it’s not easy to promote it as many parents associate it with smoke, dark rooms and gangsters,” the 25-year-old adds.
However, Ng says, more parents are now willing to let their children play the sport, thanks to local snooker star Marco Fu Ka-chun.
“Fu won several international tournaments and his performances helped parents change their minds about snooker. He hasn’t shown any anger when he plays,” she says.
So what can be done to help snooker build up a positive image? Ng recommends an inter-school snooker competition which would promote the sport among both parents and students. Snooker players can also visit schools to share their experiences and teach the sport during PE lessons.
Some parents think snooker does not require great skills, she says. “This is wrong, because it tests multiple abilities. Snooker trains us to be deep thinkers. You don’t know what’s going to happen next as every set is different,” she says.
“Sometimes you might make a mistake, but don’t blame yourself. Let it go! The first thing is to focus on how you can do your best in every single shot and what can be done to avoid making the same blunders.
“You can’t control other things, like lighting, weather and humidity. I arrive at a venue a few days before a competition so that I can familiarise myself with the place.”
Ng won the Samsung “Best of the Best” Sports Stars Award, the annual “Oscars” for the city’s top athletes, last month. This award honoured her achievements, including beating 10-time champion Reanne Evans in the semi-finals on her way to winning her first Ladies World Snooker Championship in Leeds, England, last year. She also captured the IBSF 6Reds and team snooker championships title in Karachi, Pakistan, last August.
Ng is preparing for the 2016 World Snooker Championship qualifiers to he held from April 6-13 in England. She trains four days a week, with each session lasting six hours. She also sets a target during each training session, like scoring 400 points in five sets. This is an effective way to get used to stress in major tournaments, she says.
As well as strategies, Ng focuses on weight training to strengthen her physique and endurance because a competition can last more than a week. “You need to be physically fit and strong since it enables you to perform at a high level for a long time. It also helps you to think more clearly,” she says.
So how can Ng get better? “My father is also my coach,” she says proudly.
“We always talk about how I can improve. He emphasises the importance of basic techniques, like the way you use a cue.
“He taught me many psychological tactics, and his advice has made me more mature. Now I don’t take a victory or loss too seriously. It’s crucial to improve my technique and gain more experience with every tournament.”
Who is your favourite athlete?
Professional snooker player Marco Fu. He’s one of Hong Kong’s sporting icons. But I am most impressed by his character. Even though he’s a superstar, he does not put on airs. He puts a great deal of effort into promoting the sport.
What song title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Beyonce’s If I Were A Boy, because I have a boyish character.
What foods would you never give up?
Steamed fish cooked by my mother. It’s not easy to get fresh fish overseas, so as soon as I return to Hong Kong, I ask my mother to cook some steamed fish for me. I also treat myself to a hamburger and French fries after an intense competition.