Darts enthusiasts from across the city gathered at GrandWest at the weekend to take part in the Last Man Standing competition.
The tournament featured professional and amateur players all vying for a shot at their share of the total prize money of R80 000 and an all-expenses paid trip to accompany SA and Africa’s only international professional player, Devon Petersen, to the World Cup of Darts, in Frankfurt, Germany, later this year.
Petersen, who has been playing on the English and European pro circuit for the past few years, said the main aim of the tournament was to shine the light on a sport not fully recognised.
Ocean View’s Gunners Dart Club star player Carlito “Carlo” Gambino was in fine form throughout the qualifying rounds and the knockout stages of the competition.
Steady hands, pin-point accuracy and a knack for keeping cool under pressure made him a real contender for the ultimate prize. Gambino breezed through the group stages, going all the way to the semi-finals where he faced eventual winner, Port Elizabeth’s Deon Oliver.
Losing at that stage of the competition may have been disappointing but Gambino believes it has its positives.
The soft-spoken player said he has big plans not only for himself, but also to help grow the sport in Ocean View.
Considering his experience and credentials, he might be just the right person to take Ocean View darts to another level.
The 32-year-old has had a colourful career , having donned the both the national and the provincial colours since he was bitten by the dart bug back in 2001.
He said the past 16 years have shaped the kind of a darts player he is, both physically and mentally.
He said darts can be a fun game but one needs to make sacrifices to succeed. He used his participation at the weekend’s Last Man Standing as an example.
“GrandWest and Ocean View are on completely opposite sides of the city and that meant, each day, I had to leave home at 7am, play the whole day, only to return at just after midnight.
“One can easily complain about that but what I’ve learnt was that there are no short cuts to the top,” he said.
Gambino said the highlight of his 16-year darts journey came when he was first elected for the national team back in 2013. This, he said, was made even more special by the fact that in 2010 he injured his arm, which threatened his continued involvement in the sport.
“However, I never gave up and continued working on my game and, just as I got fully recovered, I got a call up from the national team.
“For now, my main target is to win the world championships in three years time. I know it is not going to be easy but I also know that with hard work anything is possible,” he said.
Gambino also noted that he was impressed by what he has seen, in terms of interest, from the Ocean View youngsters.
Describing darts as a minority sport, he said Ocean View has quite a strong following both in terms of inspiring players and spectators.
“What impressed me most was the fact that the youngsters believe they can even be better than me. They come here, see my medals and tell me straight that they will one day be better than me. That shows they have that passion for the sport,” he said.
“Of course there are challenges and Ocean View is no different from any other community.
“Our practice sessions, for instance, take place at night and, as a result, some parents are reluctant to let their children come practice at night.
But, having said that, we have tried to find ways around that by introducing training sessions during the day,” he said.
Meanwhile, event organiser, Petersen, described the tournament is a launch pad for a darting academy that hopes to develop more than just skilled dart splayers.
“If we had a thousand children learning the sport at school and only 10 go on to become professional darts players, the whole group would have been equipped with the mentality and the skills to win at life,” he said.
“This can be done if we give the sport exposure and room to grow.”
For more information about darts in Ocean View, call Carlo Gambino on 062 177 3447.