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This Remarkable Snooker Woman Does Something You Wouldn’t Believe

Proud moment: Steff Coyle with top snooker pros Mark Allen & Joe Swail at an exhibition in Belfast in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Steff Coyle)

After a four year break from competitive amateur snooker in northern Ireland, female snooker player Stephanie Coyle hopes to get back to the cut and thrust and hopefully someday play on the World Disability Snooker tour. 

The 30-year-old has a visual impairment but originally played on the Northern Irish amateur circuit, and has even played against Mark Allen in an exhibition frame which she said she really enjoyed the experience.

Coyle said of her hopes to join the WDBS: “I used to play the NIBSA (Northern Ireland Billiards & Snooker Association) I kept on losing in the first round and it was very off-putting so I took a short break away from tournament play (that turned into 4 years) I hope to return to the green baize this season. I would love to play for the WDBS (World Disability Billiards and Snooker) I have a visual impairment, I feel that my overall game would improve if I joined them as there will be people within the WDBS who have a similar disability like myself. Although, in reality I know it wouldn’t be possible as the majority of their tournaments are played in England. Hopefully, I will be back playing for the NIBSA within a few months.”

She plays at the Cozy Club in Dundonald and is based in Belfast, which has a rich history with snooker.

She admires Mark Allen for what he does for snooker away from his duties and job on the professional circuit.

“He does so much for the sport in Northern Ireland and plays in exhibition/charity events when he isn’t playing in tournaments. Mark also runs his own charity tournament in the 147 Club in Antrim called The Mark Allen Classic, the tournament has been running since 2016. I have been lucky enough to watch him over the years, I recently partnered with Mark in a frame against new crowned professional Jordan Brown at his home-coming Master’s event in March 2018. Although sadly, we lost, it was an amazing experience. My favourite player is Ronnie O’Sullivan he is absolutely amazing to watch live, the buzz you get in the arena when Ronnie’s playing is fantastic.”

Coyle practices for five hours over weekends and is using the Blade Cue Pocket Trainer (see SnookerZone’s review, by clicking here) which she says has really helped improve her cueing since using. She has only recently started to get coached by a person called Gary who is a member of the club.

The Blade Cue Trainer is an amazing tool. It helps me cue accurately and prevents any reoccurring bad habits of putting unintentional side spin on the cue ball. It’s very well designed and I would recommend to any level of player.”

On snooker being accessible to the disabled community, Coyle told SnookerZone this:

” I feel that snooker as a sport that is accessible for different communities. However, I feel that people with a disability should become more involved in the sport, I understand that is difficult as a good majority of snooker clubs over in Northern Ireland are not accessible for people with a disability, therefore, preventing them playing the sport which they might love and enjoy if they got the chance to play it. I would say that good majority of clubs in other countries have the same issues. If the club owners would make their clubs more accessible and disability friendly, I have no doubt that it would boost their business.”

She adds: “A great example of an accessible club is the 147 Club in Antrim. The setup they have absolutely amazing!! I held a held a Disability Trail Snooker Day in the 147 Club in 2016 with DSNI (Disability Sport Northern Ireland) Nigel is an in house coach and he did a bit of coaching with our small group.”

Not only does Coyle love her snooker, but she also plays the disability tennis.

Coyle said: “I play Blind Tennis with DSNI (Disability Sport Northern Ireland. It’s brilliant it’s amazing to see people with different abilities than myself participating in the Blind Tennis. People with a disability are really amazing, they never let there Disability get them down they also play to the best of their ability.”
Finally, Coyle has a special talent you wouldn’t believe…
She can play snooker one-handed!
“Many people don’t believe it, but it’s true,” she added.

Do you have a passion for snooker and a disability but want to show off your skills? Check out all about the WDBS by clicking the image link below…

PS: Are you a player playing on the WDBS, WLBS or EASB or any other amateur tour and would like to be featured on the Zone blog? Then email info@snookerzone.co.uk and let’s see how you might fit in…

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Today’s Inspirational Snooker Characters: Introducing David “Delboy” Church

He’s a right character that Delboy! (Photo courtesy of David Delboy Church)

For some, playing snooker is a passion. For others, it’s a profession.

And who says there are no inspirational characters in the game today? Here’s one who plays on the World Disability Snooker tour…

For David Delboy Church, 22, from Norwich, playing snooker he said was an escape. An escape from the pain and suffering caused by a Road Traffic Accident he had in 2013 where he broke his right leg.

He told SnookerZone: “I used snooker as an escape from life and depression and basically to get away from the troubles I was in, this was when the passion for snooker really started.”

But despite all the troubles he’s had, even a condition called Moebius syndrome, a facial paralysis which affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves which are eye movement and facial expressions, he still managed to claim the 2017 World Disability Open Snooker Championship in his group which he will be defending soon in September.

You might be wondering why he’s called Delboy. Well, here’s why, he explains:

“It’s just a joke around people at my club and friends cause I went through a stage of being like Del Boy I think people see me as a character to be honest.”

He loves Only Fools and Horses, one of the greatest comedies in the history of TV, with Delboy as the central character. He’s a right one that Delboy…

Watch a video on the WDBS, below. Click play…

A SOLID TEAM BACKING “DELBOY”

But joking aside, Church takes his snooker seriously, and has racked up so far his highest break of 89 – he’s nearing making that century.

He’s coached by the Blade Cue coaching team, led by the head coach Gary Filtness and Church said the Blade Cue and coaching has been so helpful and easy to understand and apply to his game. He’s got a solid team around him and is sponsored by the Blade Cue and Martin Daly of Tyrone Cues, he said. The chairman of the World Seniors tour and the founder of Snooker Legends is also involved – Jason Francis. He also has a Sports Behavioural Therapist Matt Andrews helping him.

He added: “It’s made me so confident in my game. The Blade Cue Training Mat, the Blade Cue Pocket Trainer and the Blade Cue are all very good training aids in my opinion.”

Church last year entered the Paul Hunter Classic amateur rounds and told SnookerZone he’d like to enter Gibraltar next year, but said, “we’ll see.”

Naturally, anyone who picks up a snooker cue wants to play the greatest of them all. Church is no exception and said he’d love to give Ronnie O’Sullivan a game on the pro tour. But, he also said he’d love to play four-times World Champion John Higgins.

He added: “I just think he is solid in every department of his game.

Church played in The Paul Hunter Classic last year amateur rounds and he said it was amazing for him, an amazing experience and great to play in the conditions and be away for a snooker week.

A LEARNING CURVE

On the WDBS, which has catered for all types of people with disabilities, he said he loves playing in it.

“Just being around everyone and playing in a professional way feeling like you’re a pro in some ways you are just a disabled pro I guess. I’d like to see more players and more tournaments, to be honest, but we are making the right steps towards it. He added: “I find it’s amazing, it’s so good to play other players with disabilities and to be around them and play in such great conditions. It makes you feel you have a career in some ways. It also is a learning curve watching how people adapt to play the sport they love is truly inspirational!”

What was even more remarkable when he won the 2017 WDBS Open title he told SnookerZone,  it was 4 days after burying his father – another setback that did not deter Church from finding success out of pain!

To anyone who is thinking of trying snooker – regardless of whether they have a disability or not, he urged:

“Play! Give it a go. It’s a hard sport but you get the satisfaction from playing and meeting people in a competitive atmosphere.” SnookerZone seconds that!

We’d like to thank David for his time and wish him well in his career on his snooker inside and outside the WDBS!

Discover all about the WDBS by clicking on the image link below…