Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan hopes to open a food bank as he looks for new and rewarding challenges away from the snooker table.
The Rocket is back at the pinnacle of his sport, having won his seventh world title in May, equalling Stephen Hendry’s record, and returning to world number one as well.
The 46-year-old is showing little sign of fading away from snooker, having cemented his place as the greatest player of all-time, but he is forever searching out new challenges.
For years now he has tried to not put all his eggs in the snooker basket, diversifying his interests to keep the pressure off his potting and give his mind other things to focus on.
This is partly in preparation for when playing his chosen sport is no longer an option, but at the same time he believes it has helped him prolong his career at the very top.
‘It’s very dangerous for any sportsman to just invest totally in the sport,’ O’Sullivan told The Climb Podcast. ‘I see it with snooker players, they invest so much in snooker that when it’s over, it’s like, “Who am I? What can I do?”
‘I don’t want to be that person who finishes his career and just feels lost. It’s so important to have a purpose in life. For me I’m always looking for the next purpose and it can never be snooker.
‘It’s too demanding, it’s too difficult, it’s too on your own, it’s too fickle. To try and invest your whole time and energy and it can be taken away from you – not because of anything you’ve done, but the competition might be better or you have a bad back – so you think, I can’t play, so what do I do? It’s difficult to make that transition, I think.’
O’Sullivan does punditry work, has written books, occasionally opens a shop and is always engaged with his running, but he now has a new focus ahead of him.
The Rocket spent Christmas Day at a food bank in London and, along with not getting the satisfaction he wants from snooker, has been moved into wanting to set up his own.
‘I woke up the other morning and thought these last weeks since I won the World Championships, the first week I was knackered and a bit low and didn’t feel like doing anything,’ Ronnie continued.
‘Then I came out of it, but it wasn’t as good a payback as I thought, I’m not feeling the same high as when I won the first, or third of fourth one.
‘That’s not a good sign. I thought, what will actually make me happy and give me a purpose in life?
‘I thought, I know what I need to do, I need to open up a food bank, for people who can’t get the basics in life, a bit of food!
‘That’s probably the next thing I want to do because I worked with one in Walthamstow.
‘I was helping there on Christmas Day, it goes all year round it’s great what they do, but I was there on Christmas Day and I just looked at the people there and what they do, the people who come there and I just felt good being there, I felt good being around those people. The whole thing about it felt right, to be part of it.
‘It takes people giving their time for free, with no reward, other than them just wanting to give something back.
‘For me now I need challenges like that and things that make you feel good about yourself.’
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