‘Rocket’ Joel Pockets £5,000!

Young snooker ace Joel Walker got the break of his lifetime when he won the search for the new ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan…

Joel, 16, from Charnock, Sheffield, beat seven other finalists and pocketed £5,000 when O’Sullivan picked him as the most promising player in the nationwide ‘Future Stars’ competition.

Joel, who collected his winner’s cheque from O’Sullivan at The Crucible, said: ‘I am delighted to win. Ronnie is my snooker idol. For him to pick me out as the best means a lot to me.

‘I’m dedicated to snooker and want to try and be as good as Ronnie one day. My mum and dad have always supported my snooker ambition. But the sponsor’s cheque will be a big help.’

Joel’s mum Mandy, who watched her lad lift the ‘Future Stars’ trophy, said: ‘This means everything to the whole family. Joel is determined to make a career in snooker. Thanks to Ronnie and Rileys, he is off to a great start.’

The ‘Future Stars’ competition, sponsored by Rileys, the UK’s largest pool and snooker operator with 120 clubs nationwide, was the brainchild of O’Sullivan, who wants to see young players in this country get every chance to make their way in the game.

Nearly 1,000 under-16 players from across the country went to Rileys clubs to enter ‘Future Stars’ and take on a series of cue and ball-control tests of skill set by O’Sullivan.

They were whittled down to the eight who performed in front of the former World Champion at The Crucible.

O’Sullivan, who is Rileys Snooker Ambassador, said: ‘The standard of play was fantastic. Joel just had the edge in a really close competition. I will be training and mentoring him as the year goes along. He is a real talent.

‘I’d been wanting to put something back into the game for a while. I spoke about it to Rileys, and along came Future Stars.

‘It is important for snooker to look after the young talent we have in this country.’

Rileys Chief Executive Maurice Kelly said: ‘Congratulations to Joel. We are delighted with the success of Future Stars. It was a great idea from Ronnie that got the ball rolling!

‘We will certainly be looking to make Future Stars an annual event. Rileys are committed to helping snooker at grass roots.’