SAPDO Hall of Fame
The SAPDO Hall of Fame is dedicated to any person that has contributed extensively to the growth of SAPDO and professional darts within South Africa. This award will be the ultimate recognition to salute individuals for their contribution to the sport and overall success of SAPDO.
Our first inductee is Mr. Andrew Festers. SA Pro Darts Organisation (SAPDO) was his brainchild. What was unique about Andrew is that he was a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. This restriction did not stop him from starting an organisation that would change the sport of darts in South Africa forever.
Andrew was determined to take the sport to the next level -the professional arena. South African players and dart lovers were fascinated by the growth of the sport in the UK and worldwide. Many had conceptualised the professional sport of darts but had no idea how to address the matter within the South African context. Little did we all know the road would be very similar and almost identical to the UK and many countries that attempted to start a professional darting body.
For many years top players were complaining about the rewards they received after sacrificing so many years of practice, family time and travelling locally and internationally. Darts was classified as an amateur sport and there was no further growth like players saw in other countries. The sacrifices for most players are even greater due to the fact that they come from the lower income group where the sport is mostly played and many of the players are unemployed. Many players made these sacrifices and retired from darts as folk heroes but penniless. Representing South Africa is an expensive pasttime that very few could afford. Players have to produce funds for travelling, SA colours and clothing items whilst the administrators’ costs are negligible in comparison.
The access to top competition was -and is limited to -one National Event and only few players that get selected at these National events to represent South Africa. Costs to attend the once-off National event come from the players' pockets or funds raised by the players. Darts South Africa (DSA), the amateur body, has been against professional darts since the arrival of the PDC in South Africa. Andrew was determined to see professional darts grow in South Africa and have players earn a living like other top sports in the country.
Andrew approached Charles Losper and Waleed Clayton in 2006 and began to get the wheels in motion. He kew that, without top players, the idea would be a failure and his strategy was quite similar to that of our overseas professionals in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). Waleed was well known in the sport and was a past South African singles champion. Charles has been a top player in South Africa for many years and commanded a great respect by his fellow dart players. The SAPDO team started taking shape and more members were approached to take the organisation further. Anthony May, Lennie Thomas and Nolan Arendse joined shortly afterwards.
Many years of negotiations were fruitless yet the team was determined to make SAPDO a success. The outcry from top players and SAPDO fell on deaf ears and that has only made our team stronger in its movement forward to ensure top players are rewarded for their dedication and love of the sport. SAPDO currently stands firm and has given players opportunities to compete overseas and locally. Financially, we are growing and soon top players will be able to participate globally without the worry of finances as the aim is to compete with the best in the world on the international professional stage.
Sadly, Andrew passed away just before SAPDO was officially registered on the 23rd February 2011. SAPDO and its members salute you Mr. Andrew Festers as you have changed the face of darts in South Africa forever. Your contribution will always be remembered forever in our history of professional darts.