The World Cup is a big deal in sports.
One of the world’s biggest sporting competitions usually attracts many countries and sees much national pride.
However the event is not just for football as other sports have world cups.
One of those is darts and the latest instalment takes place this week in Charlotte, North Carolina.
For the first time, Cayman will have a presence there and will be one of 35 countries playing.
Cayman was invited to participate this year as it is an official affiliate of the World Darts Federation (the sport’s worldwide governing body).
The Cayman contingent consists of Eddie Balantyne Hank Ebanks, Richard Campbell, Michelle Terry, Linda Locke and Adrian Mannouch.
The team leaves for Charlotte tomorrow morning and plays its first game Thursday morning.
Cayman takes on Germany, Italy, Malaysia and Turks and Caicos in the men’s group stages.
Germany, Russia and Japan are Cayman’s competition in the women’s group stages.
In addition team members will be playing in the singles competition.
Matches continue the following days until Saturday with the Cayman group flying back home on Sunday morning.
All of the team members are notable names in the world of local darts.
Balantyne, a native of Scotland, has been on the scene for 14 years and is one of the most technical (and underrated) players on-island.
Ebanks is arguably Cayman’s most established names in the sport having played for 21 years and amassing over 125 trophies in various competitions.
Campbell is one of Cayman’s bright young sporting talents. Often times he can be found plying his skills to sports like volleyball, flag football and softball.
In darts he has become the sport’s best emerging talent, winning the Vivian Rankine memorial trophy in May this year.
Terry has been arguably Cayman’s best female players for over a decade. She has finished well in a number of local competitions and her skill for the game is undeniable.
Locke, a native of England, brings much experience and skill from her days playing darts abroad. She was the 1999 US amateur doubles champion and the 2002 US ladies amateur champion.
Mannouch, another Brit, has quietly been a force in local darts with his many high scores. He also has the experience of playing in the semi-pro and county leagues in England.
As part of preparations for the trip the team has been playing four nights a week at Corner Pocket.
Practice times are normally 7-10pm with Saturday practice going from 6pm to 9pm.
Local players Earl Smith, Edsell Haylock, Clive Smith and Ricky Bodden have all come out to serve as training partners.
With the local league going strong throughout the year the squad has only been in training since July.
Nevertheless Balantyne, who serves as the team captain, is confident in Cayman’s success.
‘The ladies on the team are the best women players on the island in my mind. The guys are also all in the top 10 on the island.
‘This is the strongest team we could get and we’re all looking forward to it. We’ve been putting in the practice and all we can do now is see how we do.
‘At this point I would like to thank the individual and corporate sponsors (namely Morgan’s Harbour, Jacques Scott and Cayman Screen Print) for helping us with the airline and hotel expenses and making this momentous trip possible.’
To follow Cayman’s progress during the tournament log on to www.worldcupdarts2009.com