Although the times have changed, it seems that some people’s mentality hasn’t changed at all. Seeing women in sports is not uncommon any more. On the contrary, there are more amazing females into sports as time goes by, and snooker is no exception to the rule.
Still, some local clubs seem to not welcome women, and that has been experienced by Rebecca Kenna, ranked 3rd in the World Women’s Snooker rankings. Her experience made her quit something she was really into, but it also spurred some changes as it introduced new rules to avoid sexism in snooker.
If you’re curious to find out about what went down, make sure to keep reading.
Rebecca Kenna – What Happened to Her?
Rebecca Kenna is a very known snooker player among female audiences, as she ranks third in the World Women’s Snooker rankings. But although her success has given her a reputation, local leagues don’t seem to care. On the contrary, Kenna was apparently forced to quit local leagues after she was stopped from her matches due to a “men-only” policy. The clubs were from Keighley, and Kenna couldn’t help but feel abandoned after the incident.
Like that wasn’t enough of a blow, the league also declared that there is nothing they can do to change the decision, leaving Kenna with a huge disappointment. Other women that have been discriminated against because of their gender can surely relate to Kenna, including Reanne Evans, who’s had a similar experience. Evans was 11-times women’s world snooker champion, and she herself admitted she had been denied access to a snooker hall for being a woman too.
“To be told you can’t play the sport you love because of your gender is ridiculous and it’s quite upsetting.” she declared to the BBS’s One Show. “When we were playing, I would just have to stay at home.”
Besides, she also added that “I think we should make it so these ‘men-only’ clubs are not allowed into the league if they are not going to let women play”. Kenna went to the Crosshills and District Snooker League and asked them to take action.
While the times are changing and women are more likely to join certain sports, it seems that some places choose to stagnate in the past, like it’s the case with Keighley. “There are others on the women’s tour who are not even allowed into their local league” Kenna went on to say. “Others have said this was what happened in the 80s and 90s but not anymore. I think it’s time Keighley moved with the times.”
Like that wasn’t enough, a snooker league committee member, Alan Speak, didn’t help her situation either. According to him, they can’t afford to lose the clubs with men-only policies, or the league would be gone. “If we lose two of these clubs, we would lose four teams and we can’t afford to lose four teams, otherwise we would have no league.”
As such, Rebecca Kenna was forced to leave the clubs. Reanne Evans also spoke out about the female discrimination earlier this year, in February. So, WWS has something to say about the reports.
“WWS is committed to promoting more opportunities for women and girls to play our fantastic sport and to be able to compete together with men on a level playing field at all levels,” they said. “The World Professional Snooker Tour is open to all with no barriers to entry and based on a mixed-gender equal opportunity policy.”
They also spoke out about how unacceptable it is that we’re in 2020, yet such discriminatory things are happening. They also said they support Kenna’s position. To support your favorite player don’t forget about snooker betting odds.
How Rebecca’s Event Brought Back Memories
Lynette Horsburgh, who is now a BBC journalist, used to be an 8-ball pool champion, not to mention the number one ranked female snooker player in the world. Upon seeing the Rebecca Kenna incident unfold, she couldn’t help but remember her own experience from more than 25 years ago. Just like Rebecca, Lynette had to fight to play the game she loves, not to mention deal with sexist remarks from men in the industry.
Lynette was lucky enough to be able to play even 25 years ago. She was taken to an amateur championship, and if a player would lose a home advantage if the club did any form of discrimination against female players. The club even asked Lynette to join the team in the Flyde Snooker League. So, as she was able to win the competition, some venues surprisingly lifted their restrictions for women.
But while she was allowed by Talbot Conservatives to compete, clubs in the first Flyde League division had something else to say. They wouldn’t allow her to play. And on top of that, a lot of men started shouting “It’s a woman!” in disgust. Consequently, she had to be taken out and asked to return on New Year’s Eve if she wanted to play.
Lynette had a lot of meetings trying to eliminate the men-only rule from snooker, but many times the attempts failed. She was also met with the “women should be in the kitchen” sentence by one of the delegates.
While Lynette had failed attempts, Mandy, a two-time North West Ladies snooker champion, succeeded in lifting the ban on women in snooker. The success came in the Lytham St Annes Snooker League. So, Lynette had a discussion with Mandy about Rebecca’s situation, and both of them were shocked. They also agreed that Keighley should change their rules and adapt to the present times, just like the other clubs did.
Lynette is supportive of Rebecca and is shocked that such discrimination against women is still possible in 2019. She also homes that the MPs will try their best to overturn the men-only policy and get rid of the discrimination in snooker in Keighley.
Did the Rebecca Kenna Incident Change Anything?
After Mrs. Kenna had to quit playing for her local league due to sexism, it seems that new rules have been introduced to the league. Basically, the league introduced a new rule that allows clubs to choose a “neutral venue”. This means that women aren’t officially approved of either way, which led to criticism once again. The new rule was named a “workaround”.
The clubs in question are The Cycling Club and The Grafton Club. Both of them have a men-only policy. But on 7 August, the heads of the league ordered the clubs to let women play under a new rule. The new rule would only let women play on the premises, or have to find a “neutral club”. Refusal will lead to snooker points forfeit. Also, whereas they have worked to make things more convenient for any snooker player, the league said they apparently can’t change the individual rules of the club.
“So in the 21st Century it is totally unacceptable to expect women players to be treated differently and having to play sterile matches at a neutral venue purely because of their gender”, the WWS said. According to them, snooker is one of the very few sports that can have men and women as equals. As such, they really encourage the independent leagues to look at their policies and suspend any club that is still following antique practices.
As a rule, change was demanded, the All-Party Parliamentary Snooker Group declared that a rule change was into play. It would be established to allow anyone the clubs to continue their “archaic practices”, and that the problem that has risen earlier this year will be solved.
But it still doesn’t seem to be the case, though. The Cycling Club could also not be reached to offer a comment on the matter, and The Grafton Club’s spokesman was not available for it. So, it’s a matter of time until we hear news about the matter again, but hopefully, they decide to change things for the better.
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What Will Happen Now?
Now that there are so many discussions about this, and so much pressure is being put on the clubs discriminating against women, we can only wait and see what happens. Although leagues said they cannot change individual club rules, the clubs themselves will have to drop their act and start adapting to the times we’re living in. Many other clubs have done the same, and women are allowed to play this amazing game. Therefore, they should follow their example. They will hopefully be convinced.
Rebecca Kenna’s incident shows that even nowadays, discrimination against women in sports – specifical snooker – is still happening. Nobody should be prevented from taking part in their favorite things, no matter their gender. Let’s hope that things will turn for the better, and Rebecca Kenna and other ladies into this game can play without facing sexism.
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