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Scott Lee
09-05-2011, 09:11 PM
I wanted to post this over here on CCB, so that as many people got to read it as possible. It is a post from Brendan Crockett's father, who, with his son, just returned from the Junior World Tournament, just concluded in Poland. It's an eye opener for those of us here in the USA that care about pool, and especially about the next generation of American poolplayers...

<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Just got home to Los Angeles from Poland by way of Paris, probably won't sleep for a day or two until we all get adjusted. So here are some more or less random observations about the world of junior pool competition.

First, I need to report that the event was virtually flawless, imho, from beginning to end. The facility was a hotel with a small convention facility and virtually all of the players and guests were there for the week. Marcin Krzeminski is the owner of MAK marketing which put on the event, and he is the driving force behind junior pool in Poland for the last 20 years. The referees were all well trained, the equipment was in excellent condition, all ten tables had live streaming on the net, and the scoring equipment was set up so that a laptop at each table showed the players, whose break it was, and score in real time, all of which was networked to the central scorers and charts, which were updated at the end of each set of matches. Simply the best run tournament I've been to. The ONLY real issue for the kids was the lack of practice tables, which was magnified by the facility being in use all day before the tournament started by the local qualifier, which had 40 or so kids from all over Europe there competing for five wild card spots.

Second, as I noted earlier, the euros simply dominated the field. Most of the players have substantial youth tournament experience and are well coached. Every team euro player had a coach at the rail at every match, offering advice and support. The best analogy I can make would be to college football: the europeans run a national ranked division one program to our small independent college,and they have depth and experience that gives their kids a serious and real edge when they get up to play. The euros run regular highly competitive junior events year around, have EPBF sanctioned national and EPBF events where they compete individually and as teams in 8, 9, 10 ball, straight pool, and doubles. The team euro that came to the event had all participated in a two week camp in preparation for this event.

Our kids have as much or more talent as theirs do on a player by player comparison. But of the six american kids who went, four of them were appearing in their first international event, and none of them have the chance to play regularly against other top level juniors. The euros do every day. Iron sharpens iron, as the saying goes, and the level of preparation was obvious. I could also see that by the end of the tournament, our kids 'got it' and the level of play rose dramatically. Just not enough to compensate for every one of them losing their first round matches. Brianna Miller showed her experience and ran three straight wins on the left side after losing her first match to the eventual winner, and finished 5th. Danny Olsen and Brendan Crockett both won twice on the left side before each getting knocked out by the two boys who finished third. They finished tied for 13th.

The advantage of the European system seems clear. EBPF is an umbrella that has oversight governance for the national organizations in each country. EBPF members fund regular tournaments, help support pros, and offer a structure and organization for juniors that gives them plenty of chance to find young talent and nurture it. For them pool is supported like any other international sport like gymnastics, track & field, soccer and the like. There is a unified structure with solid financial support that makes long term investment in its organization and has an equally long term horizon for planning.

I have to note, also, that Scott's long term interest and contributions to junior pool are very well known and he deserved a lot of credit for being there when so many others are not. And Jenny [JAM] was one of two people who responded about a month ago when I posted asking for support for the BEF to help get our kids to the tournament. Because we were all paying our own ways not all of the kids who earned a spot for the worlds got the chance to participate.

I have come to the pool world only through my son's participation and so don't understand the politics of the various groups and leagues and organizations. But what seems clear is that no one will step up to put self interest aside long enough to enable our kids from the USA to compete on an equal footing. Laura Smith operates the BEF on a shoe string and does an amazing job with nothing. The real question is why is there nothing for BEF to work with? The Polish TD made a point of seeking out the american parents, including me, to get feed back about what they did right or wrong and what they could do better. He's the one who made the NASA comment to me. I think he managed to ask the right question. Who's got the answer</span>

BTW, the question the Polish TD asked Mr. Crockett, and the other American parents was, "The United States has NASA and can put a man on the Moon. Why can't they get support together for a national youth pool program?"

Scott Lee

Rich R.
09-06-2011, 07:01 AM
Scott, I wish I had the answer to the question. Frankly, I think there may be many answers.
First of all is the poor reputation that pool has in this country. Pool can't seem to shake the smokey, back room gambling, seedy reputation of the past.
There are also so many main stream sports in this country that the sports media doesn't give any support to pool and other smaller sports.
With the poor reputation and the lack of media coverage, sponsorship is almost impossible to get and nothing works without money.
Hopefully, the fact that Pepsi has signed on to sponsor the U.S. Open shows some signs of major sponsors starting to notice pool for the truly international sport that it is. If that is true, it is just a matter of time before a major sponsor backs the junior pool players. At least, I hope so.

Fran Crimi
09-06-2011, 02:33 PM
Having been to 3 Junior World Championships, my observations are:

1.) I believe there are approx 30-odd country members in the EPBF who pay approximately $3,000 (US $ equivlent) or more dues per year. That's nearly a 100k to start the year off. Not bad.

2.) Many of these countries receive government funding to send players to events as well as to fund various programs.

3.) Regarding coaches: While we have states here in the U.S., they have countries in Europe. So, in addition to the continental coaches at a World Championship, you may see individual country coaches. In the case of Europe, that would be several coaches.

4.) Coaches are forbidden to speak to players during their matches. The only time they may speak to them is during their break and before and after their match. If you see a coach talking to a player during their match, they are breaking the rules.

5.) It would have been interesting to find out specifically where the funding came from to pay for the two-week camp prior to the event.

6.) If each country in the EPBF membership has a national championship, there would be over 30 each year. That gives players more opportunities to play if they cross into each other's countries. As for the EPBF annual event, that is the only event that determines which juniors will attend the World Championship, just like the U.S. Junior Championships sponsored by the BEF.

7.) Can we do better here in North America? You bet we can! But we first have to accept that we have just one country in the U.S. and no government funding and the states don't pay dues. The Canadians are trying to improve their situation as well, but they are financially worse off than we are.

8.) Every organization has it's problems and the EPBF is not without it's problems. Just keep that in mind when comparing us with them. There are issues that don't necessarily show at the surface.