Darts Expert & Columnist
Colin Lloyd urges the sport's leading female players to grasp 'fantastic opportunity' at PDC Women's Series
There is £60,000 in prize money on offer across the 12 Women's Series events in September and October; two places at the PDC World Championship and Grand Slam of Darts are also available
Last Updated: 22/09/21 8:28am
The opening weekend of the PDC Women's Series takes place in Milton Keynes this weekend, and former world No 1 Colin Lloyd has urged players to support what promises to be a 'fantastic opportunity' for the ladies game.
The PDC announced news of an expanded three-weekend, 12-event Women's Series in July, although the opening four events in Niedernhausen - scheduled to take place in August - were cancelled due to just 22 players entering.
However, those events have been switched to a reworked schedule that will see the cream of the women's game compete over two weekends in September and October, with three tournaments taking place on each of the four days.
A total of £60,000 in prize money will be on offer across the 12 events, with an additional two spots available at both the PDC World Championship and Grand Slam of Darts, and Lloyd believes this represents a defining period for the future of women's darts.
'It's a fantastic opportunity for ladies' darts'
"You only have to look at last year's qualifiers - it was absolutely fantastic," Lloyd told the Darts Show podcast.
"There was a fabulous turn-out of ladies - ladies that are already experienced with playing big time darts, and young ladies that want some of what the senior players have done over the past few years.
"Yes it is not cheap to play in these qualifiers, but there is some good money up for grabs, and there's a World Championship place and a Grand Slam place up for grabs.
"There is an opportunity there, an opportunity to play on the biggest stage in the world, and to play in the Grand Slam. It is a fantastic opportunity for ladies' darts. The PDC have stepped up to the plate and said: 'Listen, we can give it a go'.
"Me personally, years ago on the men's side of things, if I'd had these opportunities, I would have tried to find the money somewhere.
"At the end of the day an individual has to do what they feel is beneficial for themselves, but then if things don't pan out, the PDC is a business.
"They can turn around and say: 'Listen, we tried. It hasn't worked out, we're knocking it on the head'. That could happen."
Fallon Sherrock - fresh from her run to the Nordic Darts Masters final in Copenhagen last weekend - will headline a field featuring the likes of four-time women's world champion Lisa Ashton, and the indomitable Deta Hedman.
Ashton currently holds a PDC Tour Card, while Sherrock defeated world No 5 Dimitri Van den Bergh in Copenhagen, before giving Michael van Gerwen a major scare in a thrilling final.
However, the two-time PDC major winner questioned whether some of the hopefuls believe they can compete against some of the sport's leading lights.
'World-class' players must believe to fulfil dreams
"Fallon Sherrock did her bit. Let's not forget Lisa Ashton - she has gone through Q-School and got a Tour Card. Deta Hedman qualified to play at the World Championship as well," Lloyd added.
"They are three really, really big names, and I sometimes wonder if some of the ladies wouldn't back themselves against those players?
"It's the nature of the beast. You look at the entries there and you think: 'Is it really worth me going?'
"If you have got dreams and desires of being a professional darts player, and you want to travel the world playing darts, getting into TV events, yes it is!
"Get that negativity out of your head, get some positivity in your game. It is about stepping up to the plate. What these ladies have got to think about as well, is the exposure they will get as well.
"They're going to get TV exposure, they're going to get newspaper exposure. Look at Fallon Sherrock - she got a congratulatory message from Billie Jean King. An absolute legend of the sporting world.
"For that to happen is unbelievable, so there is an opportunity there. Do they want it? I hope they do, because when I worked on it last year, it was an absolute privilege and a pleasure to be there, because there were some world-class darts."
It's not all about the big guns
Sherrock, Ashton and Hedman will be among the favourites to seal spots at Alexandra Palace and Aldersley Leisure Village, but there's a host of other decorated stars desperate for a shot at the darting big time.
Three-time world champion Anastasia Dobromyslova could be in attendance, while former Lakeside finalists Corrine Hammond and Lorraine Winstanley are set to feature, having competed regularly on the Challenge Tour over recent years.
Lloyd hailed the strength in depth within the women's game, insisting there's a plethora of names that can challenge in Milton Keynes and Barnsley over the coming weeks.
"There is Beau Greaves. You have got Lorraine Winstanley - always a dangerous player. Aileen de Graaf from Netherlands. You can't write off the Dutch players.
"There is young Katie Sheldon from Ireland - she is a cracking little player. Lorraine Hyde from Scotland. It is not all about the big guns.
"I'm hearing that Trina Gulliver is back on the dart board, looking well and throwing some good stuff, so it would be good to see Trina back up there again, and let's hope she can get back that competitive edge she used to have, because she can throw a spanner in the works.
"There are so many players in the ladies system that can cause problems. Our own Laura Turner - how I can go through this without mentioning our Laura!
"These players are all dangerous on their day, all more than capable of causing an upset. I thought it was great last year and it's going to be an absolute pleasure for me to be there again."
Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens, with all seven days of the unique double-to-start World Grand Prix from Leicester's Morningside Arena live from October 3 as Gerwyn Price defends the title he won last year