World Women's Snooker president Mandy Fisher (right) presenting the 2022 Scottish Open runner-up prize to Mink Nutcharut
World Women’s Snooker president Mandy Fisher (right) presenting the 2022 Scottish Open runner-up prize to Mink Nutcharut

Women’s snooker head Mandy Fisher says the “new generation” of female players will be able to compete with men.

The former world champion is now the president of World Women’s Snooker, the organisation she founded in 1981.

From the days when some clubs had signs reading ‘No women allowed’, Fisher believes the sport is now close to having a level playing field.

In the BBC snooker podcast Framed, Fisher spoke of the great strides the women’s game has taken in recent years.

The introduction of two-year tour cards for women on the World Snooker Tour in 2021 has been key to elevating the sport to the point where women players are “role models” to girls coming through, and where Ng On-yee – who last year beat former world champion Ken Doherty in a qualifying event – is a “superstar” in Hong Kong, she says.

“It’s absolutely huge. It’s a platform. It’s a learning curve,” said Fisher.

“It has brought more players to the game because they’re realizing that, like [19-year-old British Open champion] Bai Yulu – she probably would have remained in China and just played from there had it not been for the fact that we were given the tour cards. So she came to the Women’s World Championship for the first time ever this year to try and win that tour card.

“So it just gives fantastic opportunities, not just for women, but for minority countries that don’t play snooker. It just builds snooker in each of those countries – for women as well as for men.”

World number one Reanne Evans, Rebecca Kenna, 2022 women’s world champion Mink Nutcharut and reigning world champion Baipat Siripaporn have all been offered tour cards.

Evans made history in January by becoming the first woman to beat a man in a televised ranking snooker event, when she beat Stuart Bingham in the Snooker Shoot Out.

Fisher predicts that such wins will become more commonplace.

“Yes, they haven’t won many matches. They have won frames, which is a stepping stone,” she said.

Hong Kong snooker player Ng On-yee
Ng On-yee is a “superstar” in Hong Kong, says Mandy Fisher

“But you have to bear in mind that that they’ve never played until recent years on the Star tables.

“You can’t explain to people there is so much difference from playing on club tables, and unless you’ve got your own Star table installed, you are not going to go to a tournament and play your best because they are just so different from anything else that most people have ever played on.

“But you can see the standard improving all the time. The women have won matches, they’re not at the bottom of the ranking list and they’re doing really well.

“You’ve got to give people a chance. Whether you’re male or female, coming on the tour you’re probably going to struggle. It’s like anything, to get used to the surroundings, the environment.

“To play your best it can take players years and years. And we know that because there are players coming through now, who have been playing for 20 years and not done anything, but in these last few years they’re doing really well.”

Fisher added that the women’s game has come a long way since the dark days when she was world champion, in 1984.

“Most women don’t go in snooker clubs,” she added. “They go in pubs, and in pubs there are pool tables. I’m not saying pool isn’t skilful, because I know it is skilful. I’m just saying that the leap from being good at pool to being good at snooker is a very difficult one to take.

“I was not able to play in all the snooker clubs, or I was the first woman ever to go and play in these clubs because you would have signs saying ‘No women allowed’, so it takes generations to get over that.

“Now there are academies and more snooker centres that make women more welcome, and you are seeing more people playing.

“It will take some time, but I just can’t see any physical reason why women should not be as good as men.”

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