Twenty-one years ago, Wayne Carey wore the silver fern on his chest to represent New Zealand on the world stage for the first time.
At 74 years young, he’ll be doing it again for the twelfth time at October’s World Billiards Championship in Leads.
Carey is arguably one of New Zealand’s longest standing cue sportsman and says he will continue playing competitively until he hits the grave.
“That’s the beauty of the sport. With most sports you’re finished at 35, but billiards has old guys like me playing to win until they can’t hold a cue anymore.”
Carey first got into cue sports at 16 years old.
One afternoon he popped into a snooker hall in Westmere in Auckland, curious to see what was happening inside. After a few games, he fell in love with the sport and billiards eventually became his preferred discipline.
Carey is passionate about seeing more people, particularly school aged children, picking up a cue and trying each of the three disciplines – pool, snooker, and billiards.
“I think it’s a great sport to start when you’re young because it teaches you everything. It teaches you discipline, it teaches you respect, it teaches you how to treat people when you win, and it teaches you how to react when things go wrong,” he says.
The world number 27 says the cue sports game has not only grown in popularity, but has also outgrown a stigma of men drinking, smoking, and playing pool in a bar.
“Massé’s five clubs in the North Island have more than 13,000 members,” he explains.
“The sport is growing each year and I would love to see it become as mainstream as rugby or netball and to features in the Commonwealth and Olympics Games,” he adds.
In recent years, Carey has begun coaching in both Hamilton and Auckland where he mentors players between 8 and 91 years of age.
“The best advice I could give to other players is to enjoy the ride. It’s a funny thing, when you enjoy it, success seems to come with it,” he says.
Carey is no short of wins having secured 124 provincial (regional) and national tournament wins.
He is also the only Kiwi to have won twelve consecutive national tournaments in a single year.
Carey will fly to the World Billiards Championship in Leads for the tournament running from 22 – 26 October.
He will compete against the best billiards players in the world including David Causier from the UK who won the tournament last year.
Carey’s games will be livestreamed on Massé’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Masse.New.Zealand