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Part of our recent trip to Northern Ireland was spent with the Belfast Darts Academy. It was a memorable experience...

The Belfast Darts Academy

Posted: 08.11.11 in Darts Performance Centre Blog category

Part of our recent trip to Northern Ireland was spent with the Belfast Darts Academy. It was a memorable experience...

At the weekend we visited the Belfast Darts Academy. Regular readers of this blog will know we are huge fans of darts academies.We have been regular visitors and supporters of the excellent academy in Petersfield and there are of course others around the country, in Andover and Bristol for example.

We were invited to come over by the founder and coach at the Belfast Darts Academy, Pat McGuinness. Pat wanted to learn the “secrets” of the darts throw that myself and colleague Andrew Humphrey have discovered from our darts coaching excursions over the past 12 months. He also wanted to be endorsed by The Darts Performance Centre as “fit for purpose” as a coach of aspiring youth darts players.  We have effectively carried out the first Darts Coaching Course for coaches-we will release more details of what it entails shortly.

  Pat with two members of The Academy!

The Belfast Academy is similar in many ways to the Petersfield Academy. Some of the similarities are that they are run by motivated enthusiastic dart players; they are not for profit and the coaches give up their own time to encourage participation in darts. They are all of course inclusive; participation is encouraged by anyone and everyone, no matter what their colour, creed or any other singular needs.

The engagement of young people at the Belfast Academy or any projects for that matter is also of benefit to the wider community in numerous ways as well as a source of great pride to the players and their parents. Developing self esteem and many other worthwhile life skills found in young people can also be traced back to participating in sport and other projects.

Darts academies can also act as a gateway to participation in darts as adults, opening opportunities for a great social life, lifelong friendships and to be active in competitive sport with darts at the heart of it.  There is also the opportunity to climb the darts “food chain” all the way to the BDO or the PDC. Then fame and even fortune may beckon some. This is precisely why we have taken so long to develop our Darts Performance Centre Academy idea. Looking back on the last two paragraphs it is one heck of a responsibility running an academy, isn’t it?

The Belfast Academy has all the responsibilities we have just alluded to. However, Pat and his team have also embarked on a strategy that whilst linked to the all inclusive nature of these types of operations also has a much bigger issue to deal with than the academies on the mainland. This issue is sectarianism. Until only relatively recently young people wanting to participate in sport did so with their own “group”. You either played for a Protestant team or a Catholic team.

Initiatives such as “Belfast United” for example which started in 1989 helped to change this. Young Protestant and Catholic footballers were put in the same team in equal measures; they trained, played and even toured to the USA together. This particular project was organised by the Institute for International Sport and the success of it encouraged other projects and sports to get involved.

The ethos of this idea of getting young people, previously segregated from each other was explained to me by the father of one of the players from the academy and an active supporter of initiatives such as these. After the young people have trained together, played and toured together they discover that before long friendships, bonds and alliances are created. They discover the “enemy” are just like them, enjoying all the same things; and of course they love the same sport.  This alone will not of course eradicate the modern history of Northern Ireland but all these types of initiatives are tiny stepping stones in the ultimate aim of trying to get some cohesion in Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole.

The Belfast Darts Academy offers the same benefits. There is no opportunity allowed to display your alliances of any sort anyway, football shirts are barred as are flights with a “tell tale” design. The young people stand oche by oche to each other, participating in their sport of choice, supporting each other at tournaments and consoling and congratulating each other depending on the results.

Some of the players who represented the Belfast Academy at the Northern Irleland Youth Open. Jordan (far right) reached the final

The visit to meet Pat and his small team and the players was an uplifting experience. Not just because it is a great example of using sport as a power for good. But also because in the room that serves as a darts shop, office and an academy amazing things are happening. There is some real talent and some real dart players being nurtured. The young players are being taught how to count, chalk, respect their opponents, each other and the coaches. The ideas and methods of The Darts Performance Centre will now also be added to The Belfast Darts Academy portfolio and we are delighted to welcome Pat to our coaching team and to be linked to The Belfast Darts Academy. 

The Belfast Darts Academy are on Facebook or email belfastdarts@yahoo.co.uk



The Darts Performance Centre is a resource to assist dart players of all standards play better darts. We are also committed to researching all aspects of darts to provide players with information and solutions that most other sports take for granted. Please support us by joining today.Membership is £25.00 per annum. 

We also offer group coaching days  and we will shortly be arriving at a darts centre near you for one on one video analysis sessions - please register for free to join our mailing list to find out when and where we will be.


Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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