SATURDAY 20 JANUARY saw the University Darts Club host an event with the British Disability Darts Association (BDDA) to showcase their new disability access stand with the intention to show that “darts can be played by anybody, no matter what their physical ability”.
The centrepiece of the event was the club’s new Wildfire 137 stand. The stand was secured with the help of YUSU, as they “saw the potential.” Furthermore, the event as also used as a way to promote disability darts as a sport. The Wildfire 137 allows darts players in a wheelchair to play against somebody who is standing. It allows this due to the board having one side showing a regulation height board and the other showing a lower board for wheelchair players, which is revealed with a simple rotation.
This follows the news covered by Max Morrison earlier this academic year announcing that York Darts Club would become the first university club in the UK to gain the specialised stand, allowing players in wheelchairs to compete against standing players in a move to try and break down the barriers between able-bodied and disabled sport. Those present at the event included two special guests, the 2017 World Master’s Champion Kev Turner and the runner-up Phil Lees. The visit from the two pros was designed to encourage a new generation of wheelchair players to try out for the York Darts Team. Making darts accessible to all is a massive step and hopefully some more sports will also follow the example set by the darts team.
The players in attendance from the BDDA had come from far and wide to see Kev and Phil in action, including locations as far as Sunderland and Manchester.
The players from the BDDA and the University were randomly assigned to create two random teams to compete against each other in an effort to show that the event was all about enjoying the sport together regardless of disability.
One team was captained by the current Club President, Mark Curran, and the other by Kev Turner. In what was a close and scintillating game Team Kev edged out Team Curran to narrowly win 6-4, with Alex Deakin winning the deciding match to secure the victory. An honourable mention must go to Jake Walpole, captain of the University’s second team. In a remarkable series of events, York Darts member Jake amazingly managed to beat World Master’s Champion Kev 2-1 to record a memorable victory which will surely live long in the collective Darts Club memory.
To demonstrate the commitment to equality of the University Darts Club and the event it was unanimously agreed that the two wheelchair players present, Darren Brook and Denis Chadwick, local York residents, would play the last leg to promote wheelchair darts. In a nail-biting affair Denis finished with double one to take victory and the winner’s trophy home.
Although Kev’s team and Denis had won their respective matches, the big winner was darts. The event not only showcased the Darts Club’s commitment to inclusivity but also managed to successfully run an event with a national governing body, which is no mean feat.
After the event, BDDA member and player of the day Tony Pass noted that “The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all who took part and the BDDA were delighted to have been asked to participate in this event.
This is also representative of the wider success for the University as a whole as it shows that not only does the University support inclusivity as an abstract concept, it actively works towards achieving this goal.
Hopefully word will spread of darts for all and we will be able to take part in another darts event at the University of York in the future.
The event was witnessed by a large crowd eager to see the 2017 World Master and runner-up in action, those watching included YUSU Sport President Laura Carruthers, and the Darts Club thanked Harriet and all the staff at The Lounge, as well as the BDDA for such an amazing and memorable event.
If you’re interested in joining the Darts Club, it costs £10. Membership includes free access to the ranking tournament, allows you to play for a uni team, discounted unicorn darts merchandise and drinks deals at YUSU bars.
If you want more information about joining the darts team, be sure to contact their President Mark Curran at [email protected]