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This snooker player was banned from playing at her local club, solely because she’s a woman

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Sarah Shaffi
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This snooker player can’t play the sport she loves because of the sexist views of a group of men.

Whether it’s tennis player Alize Cornet given a warning for changing her top on court (even though men do it all the time), elite cyclist Nicole Hanselmann stopped mid-race because she was about to overtake the men’s race, or a women’s football team flying economy while the men’s team are treated to business class, sexism in sport is truly alive and well.

And now, unfortunately, there’s another story to add to the sad roll call of women judged for their gender rather than their ability.

Rebecca Kenna, who is ranked third in the World Women’s Snooker rankings, plays for Keighley Liberal Club, which is part of the Crosshills and District Snooker League.

Kenna gained a love of the sport from her late dad, who she often played doubles snooker with. 

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Speaking to The One Show, she said: “I would always nag my dad for a game, ‘can we play? Can we play?’”

“I do remember the old men who used to hog the table and my dad pulled me to one side and said, ‘these old men don’t like you playing on this table so we have got to beat them’.”

But years later Kenna is still battling sexism - the Crosshills and District Snooker League includes two “men-only” clubs, which refuse to let her play on their premises.

And their only reasoning is good old-fashioned sexism. “I was just told I will not be able to play in that fixture, I will have to stay at home,” said Kenna.

Probing further, Kenna says she was told by the clubs that they don’t “let our wives in so we’re not going to let you in”.

England's Reanne Evans plays against Wales's Lee Walker during their World Snooker Championship second round qualifying match at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield, northern England, on April 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Reanne Evans, 11-times women’s world snooker champion, has also been told she can’t play in certain places because she’s a woman

The clubs in question - The Grafton Club and The Cycling Club - also said they didn’t have the “facilities for a lady”. We can’t help but wonder what special facilities these clubs think women need, and whether it’s just because they’re scared of being beaten by a woman.

Kenna says she was “outraged” following the refusal to let her play. “To be told you can’t play the sport you love because of your gender is ridiculous,” she continued.

Kenna is not alone: 11-times women’s world snooker champion Reanne Evans previously told BBC Radio 4 that she “couldn’t play a league match at a certain place because women weren’t allowed in the snooker room”.

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Kenna tried to persuade the league to hold the fixtures in venues which do allow women, but had no luck. And speaking on The One Show, league committee member Alan Speaks told Kenna there was nothing the league could do because losing the two men-only clubs would mean losing four teams.

That is, to put it mildly, utterly ridiculous. Standing by because you’re too afraid to battle through difficult changes to do the right thing is the stance of cowards. Kenna, in her response, rightly said that the league had no “backbone”.

Kenna suggested getting more women to play in the league, which Speaks admitted would require the league to look again at its policies. While this is good news, it’s not up to those who are discriminated against to force change, that needs to come from the oppressors.

But until the sexist men who enforce outdated practices change, women will continue to have to fight just to do the things they’re good at.

Images: Getty, Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

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