The state of the game
Each year, the Bryden Stokes Barbados Darts Festival provides the region with the opportunity to assess its well-being and to monitor its relative progress against the standards currently in place in the United Kingdom, the global centre of the sport.
The festival attracts amateur players from a wide variety of backgrounds and playing standards, with the better players from the United Kingdom competing at “super league” and “county” standard.
The organisation and administration of clubs and leagues are all undertaken by unpaid, elected officials who enforce strict rules with regards to dress code, conduct on the oche and time-keeping.
Barbados and the other South American and Caribbean nations have far fewer players, clubs, leagues and people willing to take on organisational and developmental responsibilities and too many players still have a cavalier approach to dress codes and time keeping.
The current president of the Barbados Darts Association (BDA) Lisa Greene has been working hard to change this egocentric culture, and has instigated a programme to attract more people to the sport.
The visiting players from the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada were invited to a “fund-raiser” at the National Stadium and a social darts event at A & T Hideaway on the nights after the major tournaments at Solidarity House.
Here, without the pressure of competitive darts, the more experienced visitors were able to pass on their knowledge on the right equipment (choice of darts, their weight, size and length of barrel, stems, flights), throwing technique, game management, checkout routes and the most productive practice regimes.
Greene, who is also vice president of the Caribbean Darts Organisation, is also working with a Barbados developmental squad. It will be travelling to Trinidad later this month for competitions there.
With Barbados successfully winning the bid for Barbados to host the prestigious Caribbean and Americas Cup darts tournaments in July, 2016, she hopes to attract younger players to the game like Caleb Clarke. This young man caught the eye at this year’s festival with his performance in the Anchor Mixed Nations Men’s Pairs.
Only 24 years old and playing darts for just two years, Clarke produced some superb darts under the guidance of his more experienced partner, Ron Lynk from Canada, in the semi-final victory against the top seeds, Alan Collins from the UK and Anthony Forde of Barbados.
Ironically, it was the contingent from Guyana, a country far worse off than Barbados when it comes to player numbers, facilities and organisational structure, that delivered the best set of results. They arrived with a team of only three players but left with victories in the Lipton Ladies’ Singles, the Anchor Mixed Nations Men’s Pairs and had the losing finalists in the Carib Mens Pairs.
The Barbados male players achieved a reasonable level of success at the festival – given that the overall standard of darts had moved up a notch.
As well as young Clarke, Mark Griffith showed that he had the game to trouble anyone and Clyde Murrell, Roger Edwards and Winston Cadogan had their moments.
Forde reached the final of the Carib Men’s Singles but was never really in the contest after losing the first game to Peter Ward from Britain. (PR/EZS)