Regardless of what happens in Tampa this week, darts in the Cayman Islands is on target with the youth.
The national darts team, put together by the Cayman Islands Darts Association, is currently in Florida competing in the Caribbean championships. Among them is a fresh group of young talents like Adrian Anglin, 13. The West Bayer says he got into the sport through his father, national coach Cassius Anglin.
“I’ve only been playing a month,” Adrian Anglin said. “I’ve been playing every day with the darts board at my house. I feel nervous but excited at the same time. This is my first tournament and I got into this through my dad. I was throwing darts with him and things went from there.
“The national team training was good but not that intense. My main worry is not doing good in the tournament and losing my games. I think Cayman overall can get a good finish.” Cayman is competing in the 20th Caribbean Cup Tournament on July 11 to 20. The Mainsail Suites Hotel and Conference Center will host the biannual competition, which is organized by the Caribbean Darts Organization in conjunction with the Florida Dart Association. Cayman, competing for the Americas Cup and the Caribbean championship, will be represented by 18 people.
Aside from the Anglin father-son duo, the squad features manager Paul Anglin, captain Rodan Asuncion, Hank “The Hammer” Ebanks, Miriam Rodriguez, Earl “The Pearl” Smith, Romwell “Mel” Tagalog, Cliff Weeks, Norrin Stewart, Neville Parker, Edward Ballantyne, Nathina Ebanks, Rosyl Deguzman, Irma Smith, Kimberly Stewart and juniors Arek Archibold and Kaylone Warren.
Interestingly, all of the youngsters boast family links and influence in the sport. Archibold grew his passion for darts through mum Irma Smith and stepfather Earl Smith, with his biological dad Anthony ‘Tony’ Archibold also being a former player. Warren is the son of Nathina Ebanks.
For Cassius Anglin, the focus with the youth players will not be on his son but rather Cayman’s most experienced prodigy.
“The youth players will be led by Arek,” Cassius Anglin said. “Arek is now 16-years-old and going on to his second tournament. Arek played in the finals the last time at the tender age of 12 and lost to a 17-year-old from Canada. Adrian will be going for the first time and is playing good darts at the age of 13. Kaylone, 14, will be going as a reserve player.”
For 2014, Cayman will challenge teams from the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Barbados, Brazil, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and Florida. Players face a rigorous competition schedule with seven to eight hours of play each day.
A top priority for local hurlers is improving on a seventh place finish at the 2012 Caribbean Cup in Belize, where Cayman had three rookies, including Jasper Esguerra. Florida emerged the overall winners. Prior to that result, Cayman had 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. Asuncion says aside from getting results in the tournament, the goal is to foster more talents like Adrian Anglin.
“With boys like Adrian coming up, we’re really growing at the grassroots level,” Asuncion said. “Hopefully after the Caribbean championships, we can go to the schools. I know that had been planned a long time ago and for some reason, the darts association never had the chance to do so. We hope that with a good showing in the Caribbean championships, there can be motivation there.”