The pool champ snookering boredom with precision

 
 
 

Hein van Staden grew up in a mining town. While Kalulushi provided opportunity for his father, the area offered scant excitement for a young boy. To pass idle hours Van Staden would sneak into the miners’ bar during the day and work his way around the pool table with a friend. The sport was an escape from the time he was seven. When Van Staden eventually left his hometown for boarding school in Johannesburg, he took with him the hobby that defined his childhood.

More mainstream sports began to take priority as he grew older, but he maintained his skill in pool and snooker in his free time. Until his life rolled around full circle, and Van Staden took up his father’s former occupation as a miner in Carltonville. There he started participating in inter-mine snooker tournaments and after his first victory developed a taste for the competitive side of the sport. Thereafter his rise was sensational. Appearing at his first South African Championship in 1996, Van Staden has been in attendance ever since as either a coach or competitor. In 2007 he led the South African team to victory at the European Championships and World Intercontinental Championship, where he also claimed the singles title.

Van Staden earned his eight-ball pool Protea blazer on the cusp of the new millennium, followed a few years later by his national colours for black-ball pool, a lesser-known version of the game. Now a seasoned master of the full spectrum of table-top games, Van Staden is promoting precision sports in his community. He has started a number of leagues over the years and recently invested in setting up 12 tables at the Bosvark Resort and Caravan Park, where he coaches youngsters in the pursuits he knows can bring joy to all.