91-year-old granny likes snooker... and Hendry too

Catherine Cortis, 91, going through the Malta Cup programme brochure.

Catherine Cortis, 91, going through the Malta Cup programme brochure.

I once read that "happiness in old age may have more to do with attitude than actual health".

In fact, the same study explains that "optimism and effective coping styles were found to be more important to successfully aging than traditional measures of health and wellness."

Definitely, I am far from competent to write or discuss matters related to health and wellness, but recently I met a fascinating personality whose character is definitely one where attitude and optimism prevails.

Catherine Cortis, of Msida, is a 91-year-old grand grandmother who can still pin down with accuracy the days of yore not only in matters related to family happenings or of general interest but can lively deliberate on her two favourite pastimes - snooker and football.

"I love watching snooker which has now become my favourite game to follow," she said.

In fact, granny Catherine prefers to watch snooker, football and even tennis rather than lifestyle programmes, talk shows or telefilms.

"I must have taken after my father who was a keen supporter of the Floriana football team. Probably, I was only five-years-old when he used to take me with him to football matches at weekends at the Mile End and later at the Empire Stadium".

In football, Catherine's no.1 team is Juventus where Alessandro Del Piero is her favourite player. However, Roberto Baggio is her greatest favourite of all time where she even carried his photograph in her purse.

"Baggio was such a gifted player who used to remind me of the Maltese player Tony Nicholl," remarked Catherine.

Catherine, a midwife and Assistant Apothecary by profession who retired 30 years ago, is a mother to one daughter, the grandmother of four and the grand grandmother of two.

In snooker she knows many players by name - Hendry, O'Sullivan, Lee, Maguire, Fu, and Murphy - and last month she really enjoyed watching Mark Selby when he clinched the Masters.

She follows what's going on thanks to her grandchildren who download the Eurosport programmes schedule for her to be able to follow.

"O'Sullivan is a fantastic player but sometimes he is so reckless where he misses such easy shots... he makes me so angry that I switch off the telly," declared Catherine who takes pride in anticipating the players moves when watching a match.

Stephen Hendry is another of her favourite players. She likes the Scot's calm approach and sharpness.

Although Catherine has now been following snooker for some years she has never attended a match. With most of her favourite players in Malta this week for the Malta Cup it is possible for the 'snooker granny' to make another wish in her life come true.

And so it will be. For on Wednesday at noon Catherine will be in a front seat at the Hilton Conference Centre to follow at close range the Group Three encounter between Hendry and Tony Drago.

After the match she will have the opportunity to meet both players, and possibly others too, as she will be hosted by the organisers in the Tournament's Players Lounge.

Meanwhile the fourth edition of the Malta Cup will set off tomorrow at noon.

Six international referees will control the tournament's 43 matches. These are: Jan Verhaas, Eirian Williams, Peter Williamson, Michaela McInnes and Maltese duo Terry Camilleri and Ray Debattista.

All matches in the round robin stages will be played over six frames.

The Malta Cup, organised by Snooker Promotions and sanctioned by World Snooker, is sponsored by the Malta Tourism Authority, Air Malta, the Hilton Malta and Allevents Malta, which forms part of the UK based Fraser Eagle Group.

Tomorrow's programme

Noon (Group One): John Higgins vs Alex Borg; Joe Perry vs Ryan Day.

2 p.m. (Group Two): Ken Doherty vs Marco Fu; Neil Robertson vs Stephen Lee.

6 p.m. (Group Three): Shaun Murphy vs Tony Drago; Stephen Hendry vs Mark Selby.

8 p.m. (Group Four): Graeme Dott vs Dominic Dale; Peter Ebdon vs Ding Junhui.

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