Summer 2021 saw the launch of a highly innovative and potentially transformational project. Winmau and the JDC joined forces to launch Team 360. Their aim is to use every available tool to smooth the often difficult transition between talented junior and professional darts players.
The initial squad has been put together over the past few months and other resources such as the Go Darts Pro coaching platform, media assistance and even exhibition appearances have been included to ensure the youngsters get experience and backing in all areas of their future careers. Under the watchful eye of JDC head and Pro Tour player, Steve Brown, the players are given support, encouragement, and coaching advice as and when it is needed.
Winmau is backing the project with equipment and access to the latest methods of assessment and analysis. The distinctive shirts worn by the team are one example of the new approach. Already there is both a friendly rivalry and close camaraderie amongst the squad and the successes have not been long in coming:
Initially, the most high-profile of the squad was Keelan Kay. KK as he is known to the group responded superbly to the new arrangements and reached multiple Challenge Tour qtr finals at the first time of asking, and finishing 15th overall. Keelan sits 3rd in the development tour (UK) as well. A run to the Qtr final of the recent World Youth Championship has once more confirmed what the Team 360 are well aware of.
Prodigious young Dutchman Jurjen van der Velde has proven both a successful and popular addition. Christened ‘Bagel Boy’, owing to the number of -0 beatings he dished out during amateur events, Jurjen backed it up in fine style winning a Development Tour event and placing himself third in the table (Euro) so far.
Those squad members not yet eligible for the PDC tours have not been idle either. Excellent Superleague and county results are being backed up with open and other amateur organisation successes. Cayden Smith has been racking up high averages (28+) and strong wins in Suffolk Superleague to add to his JDC Virtual World title earlier this year.
Hannah Meek has recently joined the squad and is described as having a remarkable, straight, natural throw that will cause many to fear her in the future. You may have seen her precise her walk-on at the Grand Slam recently!
Ben McCaffrey managed to make up for the restricted calendar in Ireland by making the JDC World Cup Team Nathan Potter must have been feeling left out but this was not to last long. In a stunning display, at only 17 years of age, he recently reached the Men’s final of the England National Singles finals. Streamed across the darts world, and displaying his Team 360 colours, it was an outstanding effort.
Amongst the lessons being learned by Team 360 is tackling awkward matches. Members of the squad have played each other at all levels, with Cayden even playing his father in an open final! The carefully calibrated ‘behind the scenes’ support and mutual encouragement seems to be making a real difference to these talented youngsters.
Last week saw the addition of USA thrower PJ Stewart to the outfit adding a global element and there are rumours of more potential signings to come.
We recommend you keep an eye out for them. Perhaps darts is a team sport after all?
Darts World Magazine (Issue 576)
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Team 360 updates feature regularly along with : Full UKDA Results (and selected match reports and news) in Every Darts World Magazine:
Darts World Magazine (Issue 577) and 2022 bundle offers
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