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.”
“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 email@example.com and let’s see how you might fit in…
Chris Gaynor is a writer with 10 years’ experience writing for the web.
He loves snooker, CSI and loves cycling off tiramisu!