8 Mar, 2021
Players

To mark International Women's Day we talk with 3 successful #TeamTarget female stars who are in various stages of their darts careers to discover how they feel the game has developed for women, achievements made and recognise the challenges they still face for women in the sport.

Mikuru Suzuki

Which female darts players did you look up to early in your career?

Anastasia Dobromyslova was a player I admired; she was the only female player at the time who had a set of her own darts you could buy. I always imagined how cool it would be to have my own signature darts one day.

Has the structure for women's darts in Japan affected your career?

In Japan, females have the opportunity to compete in a professional league for soft tip darts. The structures of these leagues are generally well perceived and it has defiantly helped many players such as myself develop our abilities.

How has the opportunity for women's darts developed over the past few years and how do you think it could be further improved?

There are more competitions to compete in now compared to before. In soft tip there is now a ladies' tour as well as opportunities to compete in international tournaments like the World Soft Tip Darts Championship where ladies play against men. In regard to improvements, I feel that women should be given the opportunity to win more prize money. To become a professional in any sport you must be able to use that sport as your main source of income, but right now, most female darts players are working second jobs which makes it more difficult to practice and improve which in turn makes it more difficult to reach the top.

How important is it for women's darts to see female players on the Pro Tour?

It is extremely important. To see players like Lisa Ashton on the Pro Tour allows other women to dream that they can also one day be up there competing against the best.

Did you think the PDC Women's Series was successful in improving the opportunity for Women in darts?

It was a great opportunity for players to qualify for the World Championships. However, for players outside of Europe, the prize money was an issue as it was not quite enough to warrant all the costs of participating in the tournament which was a shame.

What advice would you give to a young female darts player?

Practice, practice, practice!

Lorraine Winstanley

Which female darts players did you look up to early in your career?

The female player I looked up to was Trina Gulliver, she was the stand out lady player at the time. I watched her at Lakeside and thought I want to be just like her, doing what she was doing. No one will dominate the ladies' side of the game like Trina did.

Did you find the structure for women's darts early in your career affected your game?

The structure of the ladies' game when I first started playing was poor, all the competitions had a very short format and the prize money was really low, this made it very difficult as a woman to get the experience required to compete at the top.

How has the opportunity for women's darts developed over the past few years and how do you think it could be further improved?

The opportunities in ladies darts have moved on a little bit since I started. In most cases, the format has extended and prize money improved slightly which will make the game more appealing to women. However, the prize money in women's tournaments needs to be improved as sometimes you have to win a tournament just to break even after all the costs that come with competing. This makes it impossible to earn a living from darts which means it is very difficult to reach the top.

How important is it for women's darts to see female players on the Pro Tour?

The importance of having women on the Pro Tour is huge. Lisa is currently doing a great job but I know there are several female players who could hold their own playing against the men. Having these players gives young players starting out a great role model to look up to.

Did you think the PDC Women's Series was successful in improving the opportunity for Women in darts?

The PDC Women's Series in November was brilliant, it was so professionally run and taking into consideration the unprecedented times we are in it was great they could still run the event whilst keeping everyone safe. It is a massive opportunity for female players to get the chance to compete at the worlds so we need more of these types of events.

What advice would you give to a young female darts player?

For any young player looking to start playing darts my advice would be to work hard, practice, be patient and most of all believe in yourself.

Katie Sheldon

Which female darts players do you look up to?

Lisa Ashton, Lorraine Winstanley, Fallon Sherrock & Deta Hedman as they have all shown that women can compete against the top as long as you put in the hard work.

Do you feel like you have an equal opportunity to progress your career in darts?

I feel like I have had an equal opportunity so far in my career. I play in a lot of men's leagues with no issues and I get to play on the Development Tour which helps me gain that much needed experience.

How has the opportunity for women's darts developed over the past few years and how do you think it could be further improved?

It is great to see female players being given the opportunity to compete on the Pro Tour as well as the major tournaments. It shows that women can compete against the big names and even beat them which we have seen. I think women should be given more opportunities similar to the PDC Women's Series as that it a perfect way to give women the opportunity to play in major tournaments.

How important is it for women's darts to see female players on the Pro Tour?

It is great to finally see women competing on the Pro Tour. It gives the women's game a huge boost in exposure and shows anyone can beat anyone it doesn't matter who you are!

Did you think the PDC Women's Series was successful in improving the opportunity for Women in darts and why?

It was a great idea and has showed darts fans just how good the women are once given a chance, hopefully there will be a lot more of these in the future.

What advice would you give to a female looking to begin playing darts?

For any girls starting to play, I would say don't be afraid to play against the men as that's where you will pick up the experience. Also, practice as much as you can and enjoy it.

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