A team of young darts players are challenging the stereotype that it’s just a game for old men drinking at the pub.
Sun City Darts Club members Brayden Skurr, 15, Joel Hawkins, 11, Steve Jenner, 13, and Nicola Turner, 14, will compete at the New Zealand Dart Council’s Junior and Youth Championships in Whakatane this weekend.
The quartet are still relative novices in the sport, but are already setting their sights high.
Steve, the most experienced of the team, only picked up the game four years ago after playing with his grandad.
“I looked at the sport and really enjoyed it. I got to know the players and they gave me a pair of darts which I started throwing and just went from there,” he says.
The Nelson College student already has a host of accolades to his name and hopes to add to his impressive resume this weekend.
Steve models his game on his hero, Dutchman Michael van Gerwen.
“He’s very inspiring, brings a lot of enjoyment to the game, he makes you feel like you are there watching him.”
Joel, the newest and youngest member of the club, is still in his first season with Sun City.
He says he enjoys watching the drama unfold when watching darts on TV.
Joel says he finds the biggest challenge can be dealing with the psychological warfare of the sports “older fellas”.
“They try to get in your head, but I do my best not to let them.”
Brayden, also in his debut darts season, says his father was influential in bringing him in front of the board.
The Waimea College student says he loves the social aspect as well as the competitive nature of darts. He dreams of playing darts professionally one day and draws inspiration from one of the biggest names in the game, Phil Taylor.
Like his clubmates, Brayden is not going into the weekend’s competition with any preconceived targets. “I just want to do the best I can,” he says.
Nicole is currently in her second season with Sun City.
While aiming for a place, Nicole says she will just be happy to go out there and give it a good crack.
Team manager Tony Manihera says the young guns show the sport can be for everyone.
“It’s great, it shows that there is a demand for juniors to get involved, for many years it has been perceived as a drinking game for older men.”
Tony says the young players are continuing the strong tradition of the Sun City Darts Club.
“We have had some top players come out of the club and with the state of it at the moment, we should continue to do so.”