Women’s snooker world champion Reanne Evans says it has been “hell” to hardly play any competitive matches for a year, but is hopeful the lengthy break will not be detrimental to the long-term future of the sport.
While the men’s professional World Snooker Tour resumed in May last year following lockdown, the World Women’s Snooker Tour – which is not a professional tour - is yet to return.
That means women have been unable to play each other competitively, with Evans’ only matches coming at the Shoot Out last month and at Q-School – qualifying events for the men’s professional tour – in August last year.
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“It’s been hell really,” says 12-time world snooker champion Evans.
I know there is a lot going on for everyone but for a woman in snooker, we were on the up, playing globally and getting more opportunities, but we have had no competitions for over a year now, so it’s been really tough.
“Clubs have been closed so we can’t play there and there is not much money in the women’s circuit so they can’t pick a venue like the men in Milton Keynes and stick to it and do tests and that kind of thing.
“You can’t even practise unless you have your own table. Luckily one of my best friends has a table, but I have played about three matches in the last year or so.”
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It has been particularly frustrating for Evans to see the men still competing while the women have been unable to play.
“At the first lockdown we didn’t feel much different because it was a new thing and we thought it might be over pretty soon, but seeing all the pros on TV you think ‘why can’t we do that, why can’t we have that organisation that allows us to play through all the tough times?’.
“It’s basically at the moment the women are seen as an amateur tour. We are like a progression tour and not seen as a professional tour, which I think is wrong. Why can’t women have their own professional sport?
“You have women and men in every sport, so why is snooker different? That really irritates me. We all want to play at the Crucible and play on TV but that doesn’t stop us having our own professional tour. A lot of girls get backing, like the girls in Hong Kong get support from the government, so why can’t they be professionals and play full-time?”
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Evans was one of two women to play at the Shoot Out last month along with Rebecca Kenna. With no match practice behind them, both were beaten in the first round of the tournament.
The 35-year-old acknowledges the challenges faced by the World Women’s Snooker Tour in trying to resume competitive events, but hopes it will not impact the long-term growth of women’s snooker.
“It’s such a small organisation that it’s so hard to back all the women on tour. There are women from Thailand, Hong Kong, Belgium, Russia, Lativa, all over Europe as well. It’s tough for them to cover everyone. Even if they just tried to put on one or two events that may have helped but restrictions on travel has made it so hard to accommodate everyone.
“They have tried so far but you feel like you are on up and there are so many talented girls coming through, we deserve to try and raise our bar all the time. A year out without competitions will set you back but it’s how quickly you can get back after that.”
Eurosport is celebrating International Women’s Day every day from Thursday, March 4 to Monday, March 8. On the day itself, we will have a women’s sport takeover on our social channels and a special show hosted by Orla Chennaoui which will be broadcast at 7pm on Eurosport 1, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app.
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