China’s pint-sized snooker prodigy
By Jianan Yu
My understanding of snooker starts with top world players such as China’s Ding Junhui, Britain’s Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan. But recently, a three-year-old Chinese player in Anhui province is capturing attention after a video of him playing showed up on the Internet. Some called him “Snooker Wonder Child”, others wrote, “Next O’Sullivan”. I wanted to find out how great this kid was.
Wang Wuka’s home is in a rural area on the edge of a small city. His father Wang Yin just turned 30, mainly supporting his family by selling miniature potted plants and tree trunks. Wang Yin’s favorite hobby is snooker, and he has a table at home. A few years ago, Wang met his wife Huang online. They soon got married and Huang gave birth to Wuka, or Kaka as he is called by his family.
“In the beginning, Kaka liked to crawl around on the pool table.” Wang Yin said. “When he was one year old, I made him a small cue and slowly taught him how to play pool on a smaller eight-ball table. When he reached two, he could hit nearly all the shots on the eight-ball table, therefore I started teaching him snooker.”
“I’m definitely surprised, I think he is gifted,” his father told me. Now days, Wuka keeps the following schedule: he gets up at 6 a.m., then practices for an hour; after breakfast, he practices from 8 to 10 a.m.; in the afternoon, he has another two-hour training session starting at 2:30 p.m.; and occasionally he has some extra training time in the evening.
During my interview with the Wang family, I could see that the father had great ambitions for Wuka. Still, Wuka is so small that he must stand on a 15-inch-high box to shoot. “Now, Kaka is still in the early stages, we (are) mainly working on his precision. The next step will (be) practicing positioning. I will sign him up for teenager snooker competitions, hoping he can be successful in the future,” Yin said. Wuka is just like any other three-year-old kid. He likes playing snooker, but he is also interested in other activities, and sometimes he complains during training.
After Wuka’s “challenge” against seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry, the British player said that Wuka is still very young. At this early stage, his parents should try to manage his interest in the game. I can see that Wuka is talented, but at such a young age, he could lose his passion easily. Perhaps his parents, or whoever trains him in the future should make sure that he has enough freedom to keep him interested in coming back to the table.
Of course, when it comes to raising children, everyone has their opinions and no one is 100 percent correct or wrong. After Wuka became an Internet sensation, some sports public relations companies showed up, hoping to manage the boy’s career. No one knows what could happen to this gifted child in the future, but I will continue to keep a lookout for him.