Diana Schuler, the WLBSA marketing officer, was at the German Masters qualifiers last week and posted this after meeting Ronnie:
Impressed about Ronnie O’Sullivan’s friendliness today:
He was practicing when a fan/player asked him for a selfie – he stopped his practice and had a selfie and a chat with him.
When he finished practicing I asked him for a photo for ladies snooker and he agreed very friendly. But before I could take it the referees told us off that there is no time, Ronnie has to play now. He promised me we will meet in the midsession interval to do it.
When it was 2:2 before the interval I thought Ronnie might not be in the mood to take the pic so I didn’t want to ask again.
But I was proven wrong – he came towards me and said that we can do it now if I wish. Although you could feel/see that he was not very happy about the match.
The ladies game isn’t at the level (yet) that would allow it to compete with the Main Tour for exposure and sponsors but it has recently be taken under WSA wing as David Hendon explains on inside-snooker – thanks to Jason Ferguson and Mandy Fisher tireless work – and it has now a serious opportunity to develop.
There are many reasons why girls aren’t as good at or keen to play snooker as the boys and ability is not one of them: remember how, last April, Reanne Evans ran Ken Doherty, a former World Champion, very, very close at the World Championship qualifiers. I wrote this article on Matt Huart’s blog in 2009 and, although things have started to change, a lot remains to be done to encourage and support young girls who want to play snooker.
Diana herself is from Germany but now lives in the UK and devotes a lot of energy and a fantastic enthusiasm in promoting the sports she loves and plays. All credits to her.
Diana is not alone, there are many women and girls who support snooker in various capacities. There are two of them that I’d like to single out though as they have supported the ladies’ game for a very long time through thick and thin, they have literally devoted their life to the sport.
The first one is Mandy Fisher, now heading the Ladies governing body. Here is an article written in 2011 when Mandy stepped down from the game for a short while… she was tired and dispirited, but it didn’t last, she couldn’t stay away. Thank you Mandy!
Fenland’s Mandy Fisher steps down after 30 years of running ladies’ snooker
08:30 22 April 2011
Mandy Fisher, who was born in March has lived in Wisbech since 1984, insisted it was time for someone else to take the reigns of the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association.
The 49-year-old rescued the women’s game in 1981 when the former association disbanded, and she remained in control of the game until she quit last week.
Fisher, the 1984 women’s world snooker champion, said: “I gave up my job to play snooker professionally because I fell in love with the game.
“The WLBSA quickly became my baby and I felt responsible for it. However, I can’t always be there to pick up the pieces. I don’t want to see the game fail but I feel like I’ve done all I can.Mandy Fisher who is retiring as Chairman of the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association
“The game needs a fresh outlook and a new approach. I’ve been elected president and I’ll always be there to fall back on but I’m taking a back seat from now on.
“I’ve done my best but I feel the game’s come to a bit of a standstill. It’s time to pass on the baton.”
Fisher oversaw the game’s heyday in the 1980s and 1990s as she helped power the sport to national newspapers’ front pages.
She also rubbed shoulders with iconic stars such as Alex Higgins as she played exhibition matches around the country.Mandy Fisher in action in this year’s mixed pairs event
Fisher said: “They really were wonderful years and I thought we had made it.
“It’s been a real rollercoaster ride along the way but I’ll never give up hoping that women’s snooker will return to the glory days I once saw.”
The 2003 world seniors champion now only competes in mixed pairs events and works as a foot health professional in Wisbech.
Brian Harvey, an England international at billiards, has replaced her as WLBSA chairman as colleagues and players praised her work for the women’s game.
Some of the tributes paid to Mandy Fisher…..
• “WE want to put on record our thanks to Mandy for her incredible dedication to snooker over the past 30 years. She has done a fantastic job in women’s snooker, often in difficult circumstances. So many players owe a lot to her.”
(JASON FERGUSON, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association)
• “IT wasn’t always easy but Mandy’s heart was always in the right place and she worked tirelessly for little reward. No-one ever came close to achieving better than Mandy. She shouldn’t go unless Barry Hearn is taking over!”
(JANE O’NEILL, Ex-WLBSA secretary and tournament director)
• “WITHOUT the time and effort that Mandy has put in over the years there wouldn’t be any tournaments for us to play. I want to say thank you to her.”
(REANNE EVANS, World number one and seven-time world champion)
• “I CAN’T thank her enough for all the hard work she has put in to ladies’ snooker. If it wasn’t for her there would be no ladies’ snooker. You can’t beat a person who never gives up. Mandy’s left big boots to be filled.”
(MARIA CATALANO, Ronnie O’Sullivan’s cousin and world number three)
• “IT has been a bit of a shock. Mandy has tried to keep the ladies game together over very turbulent times and we must keep Mandy’s legacy alive.”
(MARIANNE WILLIAMS, current player)
• “IT’S very sad and we will miss her. Mandy has always worked very hard for us, maybe she wasn’t appreciated enough. She’s a lovely person and has always been kind, encouraging and supportive to me.”
(KATIE HENRICK, world number four)
“LADIES’ snooker will not be the same without Mandy as chairman. It is fitting though that she is going to be our president and will still be associated with us.”
(EMMA BONNEY, Six-time world billiards champion)
The other one is my good friend Janie Watkins. Janie is now retired and devotes her life to walking, photographing and glorifying the wonderful sceneries and nature of Wales, the country she loves, her country. But snooker fans will remember how she tirelessly traveled the world to cover every snooker tournament there was in the early days of Internet and before that, most of the time on her own expenses. She was a pioneer and created Global Snooker Centre when there was next to nothing about snooker on the Web. When she left it, an orphan, only to work at the South West Snooker Academy with Paul Mount, David Hendon saw this as the End of an Era. Thank you Janie!