The last few years have seen an explosion in the attention paid to future generations of darting talent. From The Steve Brown Darts Academy to the JDC, and more recently Team 360, we have seen a path develop to take players from their first steps to a serious professional career. A very interesting additional development has been revealed today:
Target Darts has today announced a partnership between itself and Sudbury Youth darts academy to further bolster its Elite 1 Affiliated Academy roster which spans across the UK.
The partnerships will play a pivotal role, in development terms, for players in the academies but aspire to play at Elite 1 level, a Target darts gateway into the professional game. Those players that show hard work and the required determination required to have a future in darts will be fast-tracked into joining the Elite 1 and will have even more support for their future career development.
Target aims to give rising players the resources and the platform that they need to develop within the sport by teaming up with the best youth academies across the country. Further academies have agreed to join the programme with their announcement imminent in the coming week’s.
One of the main goals for the Elite 1 Affiliated Academy programme is to find future World Champions and give them the mentoring and the support they will need to develop their careers. The Elite 1 programme has already seen success with the current model, players including; Keane Barry, Jarred Cole and Bradley Brooks are regularly competing in Pro Tour events having graduated from the programme in previous years.
Then there are players like Luke Littler, Katie Sheldon and Eleanor Cairns who are currently in the Elite 1 and are taking tournaments by storm, elevating not only their games but their profiles within the sport.
Creating partnerships with already established youth academies from around the country will help to find the best talent
s that just need that little extra boost to reach the next level. Target will provide mentoring and support them financially by providing world-class equipment. Opening this opportunity up to a large pool of players has been a key focus rather than just looking at the top 5% of talent, making it more accessible for those that want to get better and deserve opportunities in the sport.
Managing Director James Tattersall is a driving force of this project, but he’s looking at more than just the talent aspect. “One of the absolute musts for these partnerships is that everyone feels welcome regardless of talent, age, gender, ethnicity or background. Darts can and should be played by everyone who wants to give it a go. Academies can be such an important thing for young people, providing development in social skills, maths and so much more, just by being involved”.
Target are proud to announce Sudbury Youth as the first academy signed up to be an official Target Elite 1 Affiliated Academy. 2018 World Champion Rob Cross joined PDC Development Tour winner Jarred Cole – both represented Team Target – during a recent visit to speak with the new generation of darts players.
The pair even enjoyed playing a few legs against their heroes, at a launch event on Saturday 13th August 2022. One youngster even threw a 180 against Cross, much to his amusement.
Target and Sudbury have been working together to nurture young talent in past years. Co-founder of Sudbury Youth Paul Warner said: “We are so proud to be the first Target Darts Elite 1 Affiliated Academy, this will help us move on to the next level with the extra help and support. Our dream is to get players into Elite 1 and I’m sure we can achieve this, development of players is what we enjoy doing and we have created pathways for this to happen, but more importantly we love seeing the smiles on kids faces every session”.
Target’s Head of Youth Development and Women’s World Matchplay semi-finalist Lorraine Winstanley is extremely optimistic about the future of what darts holds and how these academies are going to work. “I can’t wait to see how this all pans out for the future, it’s such an exciting time to be a darts player. The development of players has always been something this sport needed to focus on and now Target have taken the initiative to try and make it as important as it needs to be by investing in the future. Giving young players somewhere like these wonderful academies can only be a good thing, somewhere safe and with a communal feel to it. Young women and girls can play in these academies without any worry, that’s something that might get overlooked, but it will not be unappreciated.”
Lorraine was at the launch event and had a special mention on the relationship between coaches and players: “It is incredible! I wish something like this had been around when I was growing up and getting into darts. You can see how much it all means to everyone and the interactions between the players and the coaches is heartwarming – it’s a proper community here at Sudbury. Seeing such a mix of boys and girls from different ages and backgrounds is great too, this is definitely the future of the sport.”
For more information on how to join Sudbury Youth Academy, you can find them at www.sudburyyouthdartsacademy.uk
Images: Target Darts
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