Cue sports are gaining in popularity in Whanganui schools, encouraged by mentors and volunteers behind Pool 4 Schools.
Josh Hamilton belongs to one such group which meets after school at Wanganui RSA in St Hill St. He recently took part in the Masse Inc Pool 4 Schools National Finals in Christchurch where he won the Masse Plate.
Josh was encouraged to attend the Pool 4 School sessions at the RSA by a friend last year. Until then he had played only fun games with family. He is in Year 10 at Whanganui City College and is a regular at the RSA tables on a Thursday afternoon.
Pool 4 Schools is organised by Gary Gillard in Christchurch, national Cue Sports coach.
"Just this year he went around every city in the country, and most of the towns, visiting people and trying to get schools to participate. He did this out of his own pocket," says Bill Maddren, volunteer and RSA member. Bill and his wife Rose coach the players.
There are two Pool 4 Schools groups in Whanganui - St John's Club which meets on Wednesdays and RSA on Thursdays.
"Our 8 ball team (RSA) fundraised to send four kids to Christchurch. By sheer coincidence, two of ours and two of theirs (St John) were in the top four," says Bill. Several of the young players are junior members of the RSA.
"They're treated as equals in here."