AHEAD of the start of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield this weekend, much of the talk has been about the participation of Reanne Evans.

Her involvement is significant because she was bidding to become the first woman to reach the tournament’s final stages at the Crucible having accepted an invitation to play in the event.

As it happens, Evans, who has won the women’s world title 10 times, lost to former world champion Ken Doherty in the first qualifying round.

But despite the result, the publicity her inclusion generated will hopefully act as a watershed moment not just for women’s snooker but for females involved in minority sports traditionally dominated by men.

Evans was inundated with media requests following the announcement of her place in the tournament and this can only be a good thing.

There is no reason why, in snooker, women cannot compete alongside men. The same could be said for darts. There is nothing from a physical point of view that would put women at a disadvantage in either of those sports.

Yet, both remain pretty much male exclusive environments. Women have their own world championship in both but, it would appear, the standard is not good enough to go up against the men.

The main reason for this is because participation levels are low and therefore the competition suffers.

Which is where Evans comes in. The 29-year-old has bucked the trend and, in losing narrowly 10-8 to Doherty, proved she has what it takes to be competitive at the top level.

The hope now will be other women will see what Evans has achieved and draw inspiration, using her as a role model to take up such sports.

Evans might not be in Sheffield this weekend but Evans’ raised profile might change that in years to come.