Tartan takes on spots and stripes

2nd November 2007 at 00:00
A Glasgow PE teacher is in the Philippines to challenge the world's best 9-ball pool players - but his pupils think they could show him a thing or two.

Stephen Capaldi, of King's Park Secondary, flew to Manila last weekend for the world championship, which is being televised by Sky Sports.

Pupils have been fascinated by their teacher's exploits since he qualified by winning a national tournament in Stirling in September. "They're keen to know what's going on and have been asking 'When will it be on telly?' and 'Can my dad put a bet on you?'" said Mr Capaldi.

"It's wonderful for them to see a normal person who's not arrogant making it on the world stage."

But rather than leaving them awestruck, Mr Capaldi's success has been seen by some pupils as a challenge: they want to try to beat him on the pool table, and he said he might give them the chance on his return.

He believes pool could even play some part in the curriculum, arguing that the powers of concentration required would be helpful to pupils.

Mr Capaldi, 33, does not expect to win the world championship, which has a top prize of pound;100,000. But it is possible to make a living on the circuit and, should he do well in the future, he would not rule out taking a short career break.

He explained, however, that he could go out of the tournament without playing a shot. Unlike snooker and the version of pool usually played in Scottish pubs, the winner of each frame then goes on to start the following frame - meaning it is possible to lose without coming to the table.

Mr Capaldi, who will be wearing a kilt while playing his matches, travelled to the Philippines with the blessing of Glasgow City Council and his school, who are aware that the tournament does not end until November 11.

Margaret Barr, the King's Park head, said: "Stephen is a popular and inspiring teacher who gives his all to his job and the youngsters he teaches.

"It is a wonderful achievement for him to be going to Manila. I'm sure he will be a credit to King's Park Secondary and to Glasgow, and we look forward to hearing all about it on his return."

Photograph: Chris JamesEpicscotland.

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