Five years ago we would not believe that we could ever reach a membership as high as we have in such a short period. 602 members now listed in RILSA, never before has this been achieved in Ireland but across the globe also.
How has this rise in membership come to pass over five years, well it’s all down to the previous five years of preparation by a number of like-minded, dedicated people who planned this out with a new vision for the future for women’s cue sports.
Interest along with encouragement combined with a new approach towards providing a secure organisation and developing a plan to move into schools/colleges, youth reach centres and a number of other organisations, have proven the key to our success to date.
Some people might ask the question, why is the entry to RILSA events not reflect this number of players when we have on average 20 players turning up to events during the season?
We have to look at history and the turnout at events in the 1970’s and 80’s when cue sports was at its peak here in Ireland. We maintained 30 to 40 members of which an average of 16 would play on a regular basis.
We had 38 entries for the National Special Needs and we average 30+ each year. Our National Primary School Championship has reach 28 entries with an average of 20+ each and our National Championship in 2017 saw an entry of 78 the largest ever recorded only to break this record for the 2018 Championship when we saw 86 entries in the pre qualifying rounds. So vast improvement in the numbers entering events over the past 4 years, if we see this trend continue, we hope to have the average entry of 30 + per event by 2025
The structure, environment, encouragement, support, facilities, coaching and a plan simply did not exist. Funding was extremely low. We existed through a small number of sponsors and entry fees. The largest prize fund was £200 at the time for a season that consisted of a Championship and 6 National Ranking events.
As women’s cue sports declined towards 2004 when RILSA had to take a break and regroup over the next 10 years up to 2014 when the Association was ready once again to get back up on its feet with the RILSA National Championship staged again in September 2014 and the start of 4 planned Ranking events to include an Intermediate National Championship with 4 Intermediate rankings, the organisation was in a secure and strong position to rebuild women’s cue sports in Ireland. We have secured the season’s total prize fund to €2,500.
Since September 2014, we hold events every month and we have a 10 year plan in place which commenced in 2015 to 2025. During this period we set targets in a number of areas such as, membership, events for girls, special needs, scholarships, sponsorship, media attention an International event and introduced women’s billiards for the very first time in Ireland.
LIST OF PROMOTIONS TO DATE
National Amateur Championship & 5 Ranking events
National 6 Red Championship & National 10 Red Championship (National Ranking events also)
National Intermediate Championship & 6 Ranking events
National Special Needs Championship
National U/21 & National Primary School Championships
International Irish Open
National Masters Championship & Maureen Butler Cup (Non Ranking events)
Pink Ribbon Pro-Am
National Billiards Championship & 6 ranking events
National Intermediate Billiards Championship & 4 ranking events
County Championship Competitions along with the setting up of 5 Regional Associations and County Federations in Ireland
Introduced a Scholarship and coaching programme all free to female players.
Set up an Academy for women, the first dedicated facility for women in the World.
Made great strides in promotions and gaining sponsors along with building media attention and producing a top class website that is well maintained and provides all the necessary information required
We are now the busiest female cue sports organisation in the World along with being the largest also to date.
305 women and girls have come out to play competitive snooker and billiards over the past 4 years which is phenomenal for our organisation and Country of a population of 4.8 million compared to the UK and across the globe where the numbers are low.
140 snooker tables are now placed in 88 schools and centres around Ireland where just over 40,000 children have direct access to the sport.
These initiatives have all played a part in the upsurge in females playing cue sports while some only try it out a couple of times, it’s the fact that they at least try it out is key to our promotions, once given the opportunity and encouragement, our organisation will see the numbers rise during the years ahead, where we will have a steady entry of players playing competitive snooker and billiards for many years to come.
While we continue to reach our targets way ahead of their time we will continue to develop our plan and update as necessary. With over half of our membership taking to the green baize is just simply amazing indeed and we know that over 200 more have now tried out the sport at school while enjoying playing at their level, knowing that we at RILSA are there for them should they wish to pursue the sport to a higher level.
Remember we are only at the beginning of a new era for women’s cue sports here in Ireland and we have to be patient along with constructive in our initiatives over a number of years yet to see even more record-breaking initiatives by RILSA. It’s true when they say that it takes at least 10 years or the 10,000 hour rule to produce high standard players in any sport and we are only at the very beginning of that plan.