Two months into the lockdown and already it feels like it’s been two years since organised sport of any kind, at any level, was last played.
While most sports enthusiasts have been left high and dry since the lockdown kicked in, those favouring action of the steel-tipped variety, are quietly – and in growing numbers – getting back into the swing of things, complete with tournaments.
Yes, if darts is your thing, you can now play against your buddy next door or face off against a friend halfway around the world, without breaking any lockdown rules.
Besides chess, darts seem to be the perfect sport for the online space – and not in a virtual kind of way but in a very concrete fashion, complete with steel-tipped darts and an actual board.
The only difference is that opposing players don’t have to be in the same room, or even in the same country.
As things stand, the official resumption of sporting activities remain under lockdown, despite limited provisions made by sports, arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa.
In terms of the minister’s announcement, professional teams can start training under Level 3 regulations but matches won’t be allowed to resume just yet and, recreational sporting activities are not included.
That said, it did not take darts enthusiasts long to figure out a workable, legal and safe alternative.
In Mitchel’s Plain, the sport is governed by the Mitchell’s Plain Recreational Association (MPRA), which caters for players at all levels, from juniors to senior men and women.
However, the cancellation of all sporting activities brought an end to the association’s regular Tuesday and Thursday game nights at the Portland indoor sports hall.
Until now, that is. And even though the hall is still off limits, it’s game on.
“Darts is back,” says Ashley Moodley, a member of the MPRA-affilated Young Lions Darts Club.
“Best of all, we’re not breaking any of the social distancing protocols,” he said.
False Bay Echo popped in at the Moodley home in Portland, just in time for an online match set to take place in the comfort of their living room.
In this household, darts is a family affair and Hayden, 11, the third eldest of six siblings, was gearing up for a match against an opponent from Gordon’s Bay. Older brothers, Jayden and Athen elbowed each other for the best spot on the couch.
While the brothers battled for the front row seat, their father mounted his phone on a tripod, logged in to the Nakka darts online platform, made the necessary WhatsApp call and voila, it was time for the match to commence.
All you need is access to the internet, a little space, cellphone, darts, a darts board and you’re good to go.
Moodley said the Nakka platform was created by Danny Toerien, from Tzaneen in Limpopo and that it has attracted a growing number of players from across the country. While Moodley takes care of the junior matches, Toerien co-ordinates matches for senior players.
“We currently play darts online, via a webcam or your cellphone,” Moodley said.
He said that a webcam connected to a television allows for a better and clearer view of your opponent’s darts board.
Following Hayden’s game, eldest son Athen, 16, took on former Portland resident and Africa’s only professional darts player, Devon Petersen, who has been living in England for the past few years and is considered one of the top players on the professional circuit.
Speaking from his home in England, where he was busy preparing traditional “koesisters”, Petersen said: “With the whole Covid situation, this is the way in which we can continue to play our sport, whether it is on an amateur or just fun level or on a professional level.”
For more information about online darts, specifically youth matches and tournaments, call Ashley Moodley on 078 180 0283. Senior players can call Danny Toerien on 061 406 7987 or visit onlinedartssa Facebook page.