I want to break the glass ceiling: Hong Kong snooker queen Ng On-yee determined to compete with the men
Women’s world champion will play seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry and former world number two Jimmy White in exhibition matches at next week’s Hong Kong Masters
Hong Kong’s two-time world snooker champion Ng On-yee believes a woman can compete with the men on the world tour one day – and that woman can be her.
At 26, Ng owns a snooker CV that is the envy of most players, but she will not rest as the greatest challenge is ahead of her.
“Snooker has long been dominated by the men and it’s very difficult for women to get their feet in,” said Ng. “Physically, there is a gap as the men have much stronger cue power so they can maintain their accuracy better.
“Also, there are limited opportunities for women. The number of women’s tournaments hardly compares to the men, and without adequate playing opportunities and the opportunities to play against better players, how can you make the required progress to make the grade?
“But I think this is just a social factor, which means it can be changed one day with more effort from the concerned parties to improve the equality of snooker and encourage more females into the game.”
Ng will again get her chance to compete against the opposite sex at next week’s Hong Kong Masters where she will play seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry and former world number two Jimmy White in exhibition matches.
Leading women’s player Reanne Evans of England, who claimed the world title for 10 successive years before being usurped by Ng in 2015, was handed a wild card to the world tour for the 2010-11 season, but failed to win a match.
Ng and Evans have also played in the qualifiers for the world championship at the Crucible in recent years as the reigning women’s world champion, but have never made it to the main stage.
Six-time world champion Steve Davis of England once said he would never expect to see women competing in the latter stages of the world championship because they lack “that single-minded determination in something that must be said is a complete waste of time – trying to put snooker balls into pockets with a pointed stick”.
“Men are ideally suited to doing something as absolutely irrelevant in life as that,” said Davis, who retired last year.
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Ng participated in World Snooker’s tour qualifiers over the past two years and reached the fourth round in one of the two events this year, before bowing out.
“The semi-finalists of both events, plus the four other best players [from the Q School ranking list] qualify for the world tour in the new season,” said Ng.
“I just needed two more wins in the first event and I look forward to doing better in future.”
Her next target is the World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, later this month where she will join Belgium’s world and European champion Wendy Jans as the two only female players in the 16-member draw of a mixed event.
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Ng, who clinched her second world title in March after her first in 2015, hailed the support offered by the Hong Kong Sports Institute for providing her with the ability to travel to different events.
“We are very fortunate to get support from the institute as snooker has been a tier A programme since 2010, the same year I turned full-time,” she said.
“Our support in coaching, facilities, sports science and financial backing have been envied by many other professional players.”
But Ng said the recent decision to give snooker two-year support, rather than four years like other tier A programmes, had created uncertainties.
“We are worried,” she said. “But there is little we can do as a player. “As my coach always tells me, ‘stay present’ and don’t think too much about what has happened and what will happen after you miss a shot, or you will lose your concentration and cannot win.”
Seven of the top eight ranked players plus crowd favourite and five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will participate in next week’s HK$3.1 million Hong Kong Masters at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
“Before I took up the sport, I only stayed in my room playing video games day and night like many youngsters in Hong Kong,” she said. “And after I started the game under the guidance of my father and worked in the snooker club where he worked, I started a brand new life, focusing on my training, meeting different people from many countries, learning many new experiences so that I have become like another person.
“Snooker is never a mainstream sport like soccer, but it is very popular in Hong Kong.
“For instance, all tickets for the 2017 Masters in the city were snapped up shortly after they went on sale.
“I hope people can enjoy the best part of snooker when they see these star players.”
2009 & 2010: IBSF World Champion (amateur)
2010: Ladies’ team gold medal, Asian Games
2013: IBSF Six Reds World Champion
2015: WLBSA World Champion
2015: Hong Kong Sports Star of the Year
2017: WLBSA World Champion, WLBSA Six Reds and 10 Reds World Champion