Jack Ford got it all too right when he wrote the following for SnookerHQ: “Canadians on the World Snooker tour are a bit like Brazilians in Formula One – once a big part of the sport, now completely absent.”
The professional snooker scene in Canada has changed a lot since its heyday in the 1980s. Back then, Cliff Thorburn, Kirk Stevens and Bill Werbeniuk were household names in Canada and abroad mixing it up with the best snooker players in the world including Dennis Taylor, Alex Higgins, Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. Later came Alain Robidoux, Bob Chaperon and Jim Wych who were all great ambassadors for the game in Canada.
Decades later, Canadian players are still well known overseas. Even the most casual snooker fan in the UK can recite Cliff Thorburn’s major accomplishments. Thorburn won the 1980 World Snooker Championship and was the first non-UK player to do so. And in 1983 he became the first player to ever record a perfect 147 point game at the Crucible Theatre, the home of the World Championship. The rarity and significance of the event is reflected in the £147,000 prize money awarded to Thorburn for successfully completing a perfect frame.
Today, not a single Canadian is on the pro tour. The last Canadian to win a pro ranking event title was Bob Chaperon at the 1990 British Open. The prospect of having Canadian success on the world stage is daunting when one considers the increased competition in recent years by rapid growth outside the UK, particularly Asia. In the last 10 years, the World Championship finals have drawn over 300 million viewers each and every year. When Chinese sensation, Ding Junhui, made it to the finals of the 2016 World Championship it attracted 210 million viewers in China alone. The entire pro tour has a claimed “television reach” of 1.6 billion homes.
It is an exciting time as the WPBSA and World Snooker recently launched a bid to have snooker included in the Paris 2024 Olympics. Many believe its time has come. Consider this: In a time when gender equality and Diversity & Inclusion issues are at the forefront of social and corporate conscience, snooker is the only professional sport to allow men and woman to compete together on a level playing field.
The return of snooker to Canada—North America for that matter—is dependent on a Canadian having success on the world stage. Levi Meiller is attempting to do just that. Be a part of putting Canada back on the world snooker stage. Support Levi Meiller on his journey.