A lot of factors caused the Cayman Islands to lose its footing in Caribbean darts.
While short preparation time was a major stumbling block that led Cayman’s national side to finish seventh in the 2012 Caribbean Cup in Belize, team manager Cassius Anglin put a greater emphasis on a lack of passion.
“It’s not that we don’t have the talent, we don’t have the hunger or drive like the other countries,” Anglin said. “We tried our best but we fell way, way short. We didn’t bring it and they, the other countries, wanted to beat us.”
Cayman finished with 35 team points, well off the pace set by overall winners Florida, who had 102 points. Bahamas were the runners-up with 81 points, Barbados came third with 65 points and Brazil were fourth with 62 points. Trinidad and Tobago were fifth with 61 points and Belize were sixth with 48 points.
Over the last four years, Cayman has steadily been ranked among the top four nations in the region. In 2010, the team placed fourth in Abaco, Bahamas and also finished fourth in Trinidad in the 2008 event; the same year Caymanian Edsell Haylock became the Caribbean singles champion.
Anglin states many problems worked against his squad this year.
“We didn’t really have the time to prepare for this, we were put together over night. It wasn’t poor management, just a matter of finding players. Belize was not that bad but people were scared of going as the crime rate is bad.
“We had a lot of bad luck too and I felt someone had a voodoo doll on us. There were travel problems with Mel Tagalog and Jasper Esguerra. They had to go to Jamaica, Panama and El Salvador to end up in Belize. But the people in Belize were very, very hospitable.”
In addition to Anglin, Tagalog and Esguerra, the national team consisted of Cayman Islands Darts Association President Paul Anglin as team captain, Eddie Ballantyne as head coach, Hank Ebanks, Nethina Ebanks, Carol Johnson, Neville Parker, Miriam Rodriguez, Norrin Stewart, Michelle Terry and Cliff Weeks as vice captain.
Nethina Ebanks, 30, was one of three rookie players on the side, alongside Stewart and Esguerra. The Bodden Town native only got on the local darts scene weeks ago and the travel agent spoke about the mental toughness needed to perform well.
“I started darts two years ago, off and on,” Ebanks said. “I used to live in the US from 2007 to 2010 and I played on Army bases. It’s a challenging sport. It’s not just throwing at a target and you get it.
“It takes practice, dedication and precise calculation of the air and the force of the throw. It comes with detailed accuracy. The math part is a big deal and you always have to finish with a double. Adding and multiplying comes into play and I’m always keeping score in my head.”
This year marked the 19th edition of the Caribbean Championships, which ran alongside the Americas Cup. Some 11 countries were in action with some of the other competitors including Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Turks and Caicos.
Anglin states many nations gave Cayman problems.
“We didn’t perform to full potential and we lacked preparation. Our first game killed our spirits a bit. We were up against the US, who are professional or semi-pros, and we were right there with them. We were undone with finishing, the doubles killed us and they wiped us out 12-0. We were there but that killed our spirits and from there, we felt the games wouldn’t fall our way.
“I’m not sure if it’s our financial position as one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean but the teams came to play us. Trinidad, for one, wiped us out and they struggled against Belize. Then Belize, another team we beat up on every year, improved big time, as did Brazil.
“In the game against Belize, we were up 5-3 and they came back to tie it at 6-6. It ended in a draw. Brazil came back and beat us 7-5 after we were up 5-4 in the beginning.”
Cayman would end up losing five team games, earning no wins and managing just the one draw. Ballantyne had the best individual showing, advancing to the semi-finals and losing to eventual champion Robin Albury of the Bahamas.
While focus now shifts to the local tournaments in the fall, Anglin states many national team players have positives to draw on for those competitions.
“The best individual player was Eddie as he made it into the semis of the men’s singles. He got knocked out by the eventual champion. It looks bad on paper but it wasn’t really as bad. The others performed with our rookie Norrin being spectacular to make it to the round of 16, losing in a game he should have won. Also two ladies from Trinidad barely beat Miriam and Michelle.
“Nethina, a total rookie, performed pretty well. She challenged the more senior players but she couldn’t hit her doubles. We all struggled with doubles.”