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04-08-2005, 07:02 AM
Women players want to go international

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Kuta, Bali

Mutiara Sasini Bunga and Sadra Q had no choice but to take on male opponents in qualifying for the A Mild Billiard Bali International Open.

Sadra, who was defeated on Tuesday, said she was accustomed to losing to men's players in her tournament outings.

They were joined by 10 other women from here and abroad in the qualifying among 104 men's players. Two women -- national player Desak Raka and Angelina Magdalena Ticoalu -- advanced to the main draw by beating other women.

They were pleased to have a chance to compete in such a prestigious event, but also wished there were women-only international competitions held here.

"It's always good for us to play against male players as we have the chance to improve our skills," Mutiara, who is also the national coach for the 2005 Southeast Games, said.

"But it would be better if Indonesia could hold an international tournament for women's players so that foreign women's players could also compete here."

Although there are about 10 national women's tournaments every year, the number is much lower than the 48 men's events.

She added that women, limited to playing a few tournaments a year, were unlikely to overcome more experienced men in competition.

"The play of women's players is still of a lower standard than men's players, so if we play in the men's division, it is almost impossible to win the tournament."

Desak and Sadra concurred with Mutiara about the need for more world-class tournaments exclusively for women that would allow them to hone their skills.

Billiards, bowling, chess and golf are among the few sports to allow the sexes to compete against each other. The Asian Bowling Federation (ABF) occasionally holds a competition featuring men's and women's players in one draw, but most tournaments are single sex.

It's only in the past few years that women players have been able to overcome the entrenched stereotype of the smoky pool hall as the domain of men.

Mutiara, one of those pioneers, is doing her best to push through the realization of women-only international tournaments.

"I made a proposal to the organizing committee two years ago but it rejected my proposal, saying that such an event wouldn't attract spectators," Mutiara said. "But I will propose the idea again this year."

Sadra said that it was necessary for women players to improve their skills.

"As far as I know, women players still lack experience," Sadra, who started playing seven years ago, said.

"Besides, the number of women players of a high standard is still limited. For example, in Bali there are only about five good players."

Mutiara agreed that a greater pool of women's players would lead to a higher standard of play. And once women come up to par in the quality stakes -- including through playing more women's events -- it will do away with the argument that the women's game does not make interesting viewing.
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