SA under 18 and under-21 snooker champion, Marchelino James, from New Woodlands, has his eye on the prize at this week’s under-21 World Snooker Championship in China’s Shandong Province.
Ahead of his departure, last Friday, he said that he could not contain his excitement, but his main focus was to bring the trophy back.
“I’m just hoping to do my best and try and make everyone proud. My preparations went well and I practised every day, ” he said.
“I started playing pool on a serious level at the age of 13 in 2013, that was when my brother stopped playing and I took his cue. In 2014 my mentor, Ikeraam Meniers, took me in and gave me lessons,” he says.
Marchelino is in Grade 12 at Portland High School. He says his goal after matric is to study further to get a degree and then continue his cue sport career on a professional level.
The quietly confident young man predicts that in the next five years he will be the world champion in multiple cue sports. The lanky teen encouraged other youngsters interested in the game to never stop believing in themselves, to take risks when needed and to always heed good advice.
His coach Shafiek Peters, who is accompanying Marchelino on his trip to China, said the best of all the cue sport countries qualified for the under-21 world championships, and the youngster is on par with the world’s best in his category.
“We are working very hard because there are other factors to consider when you’re competing in another country. We want to lift his mental health, positivity, self belief and confidence.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise if he wins the competition because he has been training with me for years and this time he has been training really hard.”
He says his protégé first played in snooker tournaments last year and won most of the competitions he entered.
“I’ve been watching the world under-21 snooker championships for the past two years, I’ve analysed how they play and where the strings are. We have prepared for over a month and a half, which is not enough, but we focused very hard on self belief and working under pressure,” he says.
“He went through all the pool championships and I can see he loves the game and wants to make a career out of it. There are opportunities, but you need to work towards them and set goals. He has the focus and the drive, he wants to win this championship, which makes it easier for me to coach him,” he said.