The World Women’s Snooker number three has stopped playing in her local league after fighting archaic rules that mean women can’t play in certain working men’s clubs.
Rebecca Kenna has been playing snooker in her local town of Keighley in West Yorkshire since 2013, but over the last five years has experienced so much sexism, that she was forced to quit the league after the last season in 2018.
The 30-year-old had been playing at the Grafton Club and Keighley Cycling Club, which both have strict no women rules.
This means she has missed out on vital team games – and lost out on a trophy for Best Player.
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Rebecca Kenna (pictured above) has been playing snooker in Yorkshire since 2013
The Grafton Club (pictured above) is one of the places that had previously agreed for Rebecca to play at their venue
Keighley Cycling Club (pictured above the Home and Garden store) has strict rules on women
Rebecca who married her partner Ashley Kenna in 2017 said: ‘The clubs get more revenue for hosting a final, so one season, when I was in the final, the Grafton had agreed that I could play there.
‘It was then I realised these places could bend their rules if they wanted to, they just chose not to, and that hurt me a lot.
‘I have also missed out on the trophies for being the best player because I have not been able to play in games at these venues. It’s disgusting and it’s humiliating.’
Rebecca, who now coaches snooker full time at her own centre, started playing with her dad when she was four-years-old.
Rebecca Kenna (right) pictured with her husband Ashley who she married in 2017
She grew up playing the sport with her dad, Mick Granger at the Keighley Liberal Club as soon as she was tall enough to look over the table.
The pair would play for fun but in 2012 they were invited to join the league, where teams pit their best players against each other.
However, she soon came up against sexism in the sport when she was not allowed to play at those two clubs.
Rebecca (pictured above) receiving an award for completing the World Snooker Community Coach course
She added: ‘On those nights I would have to stay at home. My dad also refused to play.’
Sadly this league would be the first and last that father and daughter would play in together as engineer Mick died, aged 57, in December 2015 from Lymphoma.
Rebecca, who now owns Que Sports Yorkshire threw herself into the sport, using the intense concentration required to master the game, to get her through the most difficult time of her life.
It was then she joined World Women’s Snooker and began taking her sport more seriously.
As she gained prestige in the women’s games, beating world champions, she still could not beat the primitive rules at the local clubs, despite being captain of the team.
Rebecca said the death of her father Mike (pictured above) helped her throw herself into the sport
She said: ‘In the end I decided I could not do it any more – I was in a position where my team were unable to play their strongest player.
‘To be told you can’t play the sport you love because of your gender is ridiculous and upsetting.
‘We should make it so these ‘men-only’ clubs are not allowed into the league if they are not going to let women play.
Rebecca (pictured above) also coaches and own a cue store
‘I do not believe the clubs hold all the cards in making this outdated decision.’
David Greene, chairman of Cross Hills & District Snooker League, said: ‘Unfortunately individual club rules, which aren’t determined by the snooker league, can’t be changed no matter how hard we have tried over the years.
‘Every single season I personally wrote to the two clubs to ask the club committees to allow Rebecca to play in their club when Rebecca’s team were due to play there and every single time this was refused.
‘I have asked the clubs just to let Rebecca in to play her frame and then leave and suggested various ideas from reversing fixtures to even not allowing the clubs to put teams in that don’t allow women in.
‘Unfortunately [these] ideas have always been voted against by the league members.
‘The two clubs that don’t allow women in contribute four teams to the league, and without them the league would most likely fold as we are only a very small league.
‘I would like to say that as the chairman of the league, the league officials and players were fully behind Rebecca playing in our league and we are extremely proud of her achievements as a professional.’
Rebecca said: ‘We need more women in snooker, this is one sport where men and women could be on a level playing field.
In 2018 Rebecca reached the finals of the World Ladies Billiard and Snooker finals and said she had ‘achieved her targets’ and was happy with the work she had put in
‘Women could be in the top 100 professionals, playing in the World Snooker Championship.
‘The reason we don’t is not through lack of ability but a lack of opportunity. There isn’t the money or the sponsorship for women in snooker.’
Another player, from Huddersfield, West Yorks., Helen-Claire O’Connor, does not have a problem with attending clubs but has experienced sexism first hand.
She said: ‘One in particular had tape on the floor where women couldn’t cross. I’ve also been reported to the league for beating a chap when I was eight months pregnant, apparently being beaten by one and half people wasn’t fair.’
Reanne Evans, 11-times women’s world snooker champion, said: ‘There are others on the women’s tour who are not even allowed in to their local league.
Who is Rebecca Kenna?
Rebecca Kenna made her debut appearance at the World Women’s Snooker World Championship in 2016.
Since then she has continued to go from strength to strength and reached her first ranking final at the 2017 Connie Gough Trophy and at the end of her first full season she ranked number six.
Just last year she reached two ranking event finals at the UK Women’s Championship and Eden Women’s Masters.
Away from her passion of playing, Rebecca is a full time snooker-coach and is qualified in 1st4sport Level 2 in Snooker Coaching.
She is also the owner of Cue Sports Yorkshire which offers coaching and cues to purchase.
‘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.’
Both clubs have been contacted for comment.
World Women’s Snooker (WWS) said it was committed to promoting the more opportunities for women and girls to play the sport and to compete together with men on a level playing field at all levels.
‘The World Professional Snooker Tour is open to all with no barriers to entry and based on a mixed gender equal opportunity policy.
‘Several women and girls who play on our tour also regularly compete alongside men in mixed gender leagues across the country without any barriers. It is disappointing and unacceptable that in 2019 that players such as Rebecca Kenna have been the victim of antiquated discriminatory practices.
‘These are not condoned by snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) or WWS, and together with our partner organisations we fully support Rebecca’s position.
‘The WPBSA adopts a clear equal opportunities policy through which these venues will not be considered to host any international competitions and are ineligible to be affiliated to England’s official club scheme The 147 Club until they can demonstrate equality.’