JDC Diary: Distancing dilemas

By JDC Official 01/11/2020

BLACKBURN Youth Darts Academy was formed in March 2017 by Director Keith Brunt when he realised that there wasn’t much opportunity in Lancashire to really progress in darts and get the support to learn to play and to improve and progress to the next level. Keith who had experience at playing at pub level in the sport and a BSC Hons degree in elite sports coaching and performance was amazed to discover how much of a demand there was for a youth academy when 18 kids walked through the door the first day.

Blackburn is the only JDC academy in the entire North West of England and sees students coming from Manchester, Yorkshire, Bolton, Preston even as far as Carlisle on the train each week. Especially after Academy Director, Keith won the JDC Community Award 2019 from all other academies in the world presented to him by MVG at his Winmau launch in Cardiff early in the year. With over 30 students now and a waiting list for more to join the academy certainly are meeting the demand. However, due to Covid-19, they had to close the doors in March. Keith has been running virtual sessions and competitions each week as well as daily changes and JDC virtual for students via Zoom during lockdown but numbers have dwindled. Keith is working hard to find a way to reopen though and has decided to move the academy to a much larger venue which can more than double the current capacity.

The new venue will see the academy go from six dartboard setups to 10 with a finals stage set up also and more set-ups in storage ready to use when the time comes to start enrolling new students again. With a new bigger venue they can reopen the doors and run safe socially distanced sessions. Keith says he has a plan to have two sessions with 15 students to each session government guidelines state and each dartboard will have two to three children to each board with all socially distancing in place.

However, while the move will get the academy open again and the children back on the oches it is costing quite a lot of money and will wipe out all the academy funds which they have worked hard to raise over the years. The project is costing around £4,000 as all setups need to be built and must be free-standing, the cost of all additional equipment such as lighting, scoreboards, tablets etc, and all safety and PPE resources required. Once Covid has gone away or restrictions have been lifted the venue will however enable the academy to take more new students and grow and have the capacity to have over 100 students. Another great boost for the North West children and darts community.

Blackburn has had superb support from its ambassadors Darryl Fitton, Laura Turner, Alan Warriner-Little, Paul Booth and Tony O Shea over the past few years. The academy is looking for dartboard sponsors and donations to assist them to recoup some of the money they use for general running costs.

------ENDS-------

If anyone wishes to assist please email: keith@ blackburnyouthdartsacademy.co.uk or visit the website www.blackburnyouthdartsacademy.co.uk
Article originally published in Darts World magazine (Issue 571).

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