In a bid to make Darts more accessible, inclusive and integrated for all, the University of York’s Darts Club recently bought a specialised stand to allow players in a wheelchair to compete against standing players – the only university Darts club in the UK with the apparatus.
The club’s President – Mark Curran – hopes that the decision to buy the stand allowing for wheelchair players to play darts against non-wheelchair players, might encourage more university darts clubs to eventually follow suit in order to achieve “total integration, with no separation” for the sport on a national scale.
The stand itself is called – the Wildfire 137 – and features two dart boards on either side of a rotating backboard which on one side has a standard board for standing players to use, and the other with a slightly lower board (designed in accordance with WDDA – World Disability Darts Association guidelines) which allows for the two categories of players to play against each other at the same time.
Currently, the University’s Darts Club has no wheelchair players, but the club insists that the initial first year following the purchase of the stand is a “bedding in process” – providing the option for disabled players to get involved in darts and compete with friends and players who are not in wheelchairs in a bid to push integration further than it currently allows – even in the professional game.
The current situation in professional UK darts only allows for players in wheelchairs to play against one another, but not against standing players.
In order to secure the money to purchase the stand, the club enlisted the help of YUSU (York University Student Union). They applied for a contingency grant with the union at the end of the last academic year, which enabled them to ascertain £500 to buy the stand from an Australian company over the summer of this year. Club President Mark said that the process of securing the money from YUSU was “easy to do” as the union “saw the potential” for the benefits not just for the darts club itself, but for sport at York in general too.
The main motive behind the decision to purchase the stand from Mark’s perspective is really to kickstart growth in accessibility in a range of sports at the university. For example, football teams to start promoting the setup of a blind football team, or tennis to allow players to play in a wheelchair too. All in all, the main idea being to spread the word across the university, to create a sporting environment here at York that is more accessible, inclusive and inviting to all.