MSK’s co-founder Baniel Cheung is an educator for life and an avid snooker enthusiast. As a father of three and a professor in HKU, he is also an expert in childhood education and is experienced in teaching children with special education needs.
Two years ago, Baniel was searching for snooker classes for his son when he realized that snooker education for children was essentially non-existent in Hong Kong. Offerings were either in private setting without a structured curriculum, situated in an unsafe environment for children, or catered towards more mature teenagers. He decided to take the task in his hands. With world-renowned snooker player Marco Fu and a group of friends equally passionate in education, the team has founded Master Snooker Kingdom in 2020.
Last year I have celebrated my 20th anniversary as a professional snooker player. While playing at a high level requires continuously improving and breaking through, I think that this is a suitable time for me to think of other areas to challenge myself and make an impact.
Starting a snooker academy for kids has always been a thought at the back of my mind. The sport was widely misunderstood by the public, the environment and equipment of snooker clubs in Hong Kong were also unwelcoming to kids. Thanks to the invitation from the team, I could finally start a place where aspiring kids could come in and learn snooker properly.
Surely, I have learnt so much more than just playing snooker in my career. I remember as a kid I used to be extremely shy in front of others, not even willing to pot the ball when someone was passing by my table. Snooker has taught me how to be more outgoing and persevere even in adversity. I think that these skills learnt through snooker are transferable and that are essential for Hong Kong children nowadays.
Looking back, I started playing because of my father, and it seems to also be the case for many of my friends who are pursuing the snooker profession. I think that we should popularize the sport and allow those parents who are not experienced in the sport to let their children try out and learn more about snooker. I have the confidence that many kids will grow to enjoy this sport and develop as a better person by having snooker as a part of their childhood.