The sport of darts in Barbados is going nowhere. In fact, its stagnation is one of the best-kept secrets in Barbados, says Vertis Seay.
Sealy, a darts stalwart of 36 years, spoke with the media following the announcement of a two-year sponsorship deal between Graduates Darts Club and Julie’s Party Rentals Wednesday morning at Bank Hall Cross Road, St Michael.
He explained that the standard of darts was neither declining nor progressing and in order to change the stagnation and get the sport to another level, more persons especially the youth needed to get involved.
He also pointed out that sponsorship was not the issue but more importantly generating interest in the sport and attracting more persons to the sport were critical to darts’ development.
“Dart is a low maintenance sport, so most persons can fund themselves like Julie had helped us here with shirts. We also have the Armstrong Group; they work with us. So we need to recognise these simple things that there are people out there like Julie who are willing to help us but we have darts players who have to be able to improve.
“Getting sponsorship is not the issue. It is to get the interest going and that is why we are so interested in the youth. The youth are our future. The schools have regarded this as a sport that can be a danger but if you go all around the world there are youth leagues and they are in cultures that are more violent than ours,” he suggested.
Graduates, one of the most influential darts club in Barbados having won a number of championships since its 31 years of existence, is seeking to increase its seventeen-member club to a total of 25 or more by 2018. Sealy noted that at one point there were 35 teams involved in darts but that had since diminished to nine. However, plans are being put in place by the association to restore that legacy.
Graduates Club is all for having the youth involved but Sealy explained: “We are trying not to be called child abusers because of how the game is played. There is also a potential for drinks to be around darts and therefore when people drink they tend to say a few choice words. However any sport that needs to grow needs to involve the youth and there needs to be further input of views into the game, not only at Graduates Club but in the association as well. I know a few members of the association have voiced that concern, so we look forward to seeing what the association will do to address that issue.”
Enforcers formerly Police, Signals and Reddy Killowat are the only three long-standing darts club in addition to Graduates.
President of Graduates Club, Gregory Catlyn, alluded to a mini-size youth programme conducted at Lawrence T. Gay Primary with about 12 participants who are actively playing. Catlyn praised the fact that six of those players were able to represent Barbados in the Caribbean Darts Championship and the Americas Cup.
Catlyn who made his national debut in 1989 and is a former 15- time national champion said one of his visions was to send a Graduates youth team to Canada in 2019 to compete.
Meanwhile, Juliana ‘Julie’ Sealy, owner of Julie’s Party Rentals the official title sponsor, said this was not the first time that her business had done sponsorship having previously sponsored draughts.
“Julie’s Party Rentals is always proud to be associated with ventures like this and this is one of the main reasons that Julie’s Party Rentals is conveniently located in a community. We have the Bank Hall, Garden Land and Eagle Hall communities. So it tells you I am a community person and we are not always able to help everyone because a lot of people come to us for donations but I am proud to be associated with the darts. As Mr Catlyn said years ago I was part of the darts team… And we must recognise that things [sports] like darts that happen in communities is part of building persons into being what they are. Mr Catlyn would also tell you that I used to play road tennis, so all these things helped me to develop as a person. At Julie’s Party Rentals we are not only about receiving in terms of persons coming in and patronising the business, we are also into giving back to the community and helping build young people to develop into persons like myself and also those persons playing darts now,” Sealy said.