The SA Pro Darts Organisation, (ASS. Inc. under Section 21) (SAPDO), a non-profit organisation was established in 2008 to encourage the promotion and the sport of darts on a professional level in South Africa. SAPDO was the brainchild of Mr. Andrew Festers, a wheelchair bound dart lover from Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, South Africa. Andrew served on the executive of one of the most decorated amateur darts body’s in South Africa, namely Mitchells Plain Recreation Association (MPRA). Andrew past away just before SAPDO was registered as a legal company within South Africa but his memory will forever be recorded in our Hall of Fame.
The sport of darts is played on a social level in most of communities throughout South Africa and a dart board can be found in most homes. The indigent communities in South Africa have been exposed to social sports like Rings which was huge during the early Apartheid era due to restrictions and access to sports within South Africa. Darts was introduced to communities and speedily took over the Rings leagues and before anyone realised darts became the social sport of choice for these poorer communities. Rings leagues became something of the past and darts was now the sport of choice as it was easy to access and was relatively cheap to play. In the mean time darts had become a popular sport in other communities around South Africa and was a national sport.
In the early 1990’s darts became a unified sport within South Africa and all players played under one banner thereby creating South Africa’s first darts body, Darts South Africa (DSA). As the sport grew in popularity many players from all walks of life started taking a serious interest and started to produce darts of exceptional quality. These players represented South Africa internationally and over decades became household names for the dart lovers across South Africa.
Then the arrival Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) with the most famous players in the sports breaking away from the amateur bodies (BDO, WDF), due to rewards being limited for top players. Players like Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Dennis Priestly and the most famous of them all Phil “The Power” Taylor broke away from the amateur bodies in 1993-94. In South Africa we were enjoying the sport and were not paying to much attention to the developments in the UK as we were more focused on playing the game and following players like Bristow, Taylor, Lowe, and Priestly. Little did we know 20 years or so down the line it would affect our sport in a similar way it transpired in the UK. Players and administrators started asking questions surrounding the administration and benefits players receive being the top players in South Africa. Like in the UK players were sacrificing hours of practise, time away from their families, representing South Africa on the amateur stage internationally without any feasible rewards like in other sports. Players have to pay fees to belong to amateur clubs, provinces, DSA and then pay to attend the once a year National tournament if you are selected by your district or province.
Winning the tournament meant you received a medal and no financial reward for your achievements after years of sacrifice. Players selected to represent South Africa are then burdened with even more costs like paying for their colours (blazers, tracksuits, etc.) and on top of that they are also required to pay huge amounts towards their costs for travelling abroad, whilst the administrators and management team does not incur many of these costs while travelling with the players. It was only a matter of time before the bubble would burst and South Africa would follow the developments in darts like with their UK professional counterparts.
Andrew Festers started implementing his ideas by getting the top players and administrators involved to give birth to SAPDO. MPRA produced teams and individuals that have become leaders in the sport of darts in South Africa. Devon "The Spartan" Petersen, Charles Losper and Waleed Clayton are but a few of the top players that have come from the MPRA amateur stables. Many have attempted and failed before but this would not stop Andrew in fulfilling his dream by seeing South Africa enter the world of professional darts. Andrew approached a few top players and administrators to assist in making his dream a reality. Charles Losper, Waleed Clayton, Anthony May, and Lennie Thomas were among the original team. Nolan Arendse joined the team shortly afterwards. As is the norm there were some members that came on board and then later left the team to pursue other goals. SAPDO was initially known as the South African Dart Players Association (SADPA). The name was changed to SAPDO due to registration requirements at the registrar of companies in South Africa. SAPDO was finally registered in February of 2011 after many years of registration problems. SAPDO held its first competition in 2008 at the MPRA hall in Mitchells Plain and had a total prize fund of R16, 000.00 on offer. At the time this was an enormous amount of money for a singles dart event in South Africa. The winner would receive R8, 000.00, the runner-up R3, 000.00 and the semi-finalists R1, 500.00 each. The tournament was a resounding success and had players from across South Africa starting registering with SAPDO. Pictures and clips are available on the website. Since that first tournament in 2008 SAPDO has grown to be the only professional darting body in South Africa. SAPDO’s board has tried tirelessly to have a relationship with the amateur darts body in South Africa to promote the sport of darts as whole but to no avail.
The amateur body, Darts South Africa (DSA) insists in their behaviour that professional darts is a threat to the amateur body, which we are not. SAPDO understands the need for an amateur body and a professional body and for these organisations to work hand in hand. We will continue to work on this but for now we must focus on getting our organisation and players what they deserve. Top dart players in South Africa have represented South Africa over the decades and have gained nothing or very little from their years of sacrifice. SAPDO was formed to give these top athletes that spend hour’s everyday to hone their skills an opportunity to earn a living from the sport. Many of these players do not have great jobs and many are unemployed. SAPDO is creating a platform for these top athletes to earn a living and be the best at their sport like every other professional sport in South Africa and world-wide. SAPDO was and is mainly sponsored by the board of directors that also give their time to ensure that the sport of professional darts becomes a national viewing and entertaining sport across South Africa and eventually expand into Africa. There are many obstacles and learning curves but the current board, members and players are dedicated to make the dream of top professional South African darters a success.
SAPDO salutes top players like Charles Losper and Waleed Clayton that started the ball rolling in South Africa that lead to emerging stars like Devon “The Spartan” Petersen taking on the big stage at the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) in the UK. Devon has in turn taken South Africa to newer heights in the sport and is making a huge impact on the PDC circuit. Another rising star has come the fore and that is Shawn Hogan. Shawn has partnered Devon in the PDC World Cup of Darts held in Germany February 2012. These two rising stars took on the big names including Scottish professionals Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. The South African pair narrowly lost out to Wales in the quarter-finals of the competition going to literally the last dart of the encounter. Today SAPDO has the top male, female and youth players belonging too and competing within our ranks. Top female stars competing with the men are Tania Mains and Samantha Jephta. Tania and Samantha have represented South Africa on the amateur stage and have boldly taken the leap with the rest of us. SAPDO hopes to send these ladies to the international tournaments as they have proven their worth and need exposure and experience on the big stage.
Our youth are showing tremendous talent and have represented South Africa on the amateur stage in recent years. We aim to send these young stars to the PDC youth tour and championships in the near future. SAPDO has travelled a long and arduous journey to where we currently are and we foresee a bright future for the professional sport of darts in South Africa. We have currently formed major partnerships with Unicorn, Mycoza.com, Leisure Group Hotels and Groote Schuur Sports and Recreation. More information can found under our Partners tab. One of our goals is to ensure that players representing SAPDO do not incur any costs whilst representing our organisation abroad. At the moment we are not able to assist players fully but it will soon become a reality. Currently we have created opportunities for players to access tournaments overseas which was never available in the past. We are currently in need of financial support to ensure faster growth and to give players more opportunities locally and especially internationally. SAPDO stands firm in its goals and is dedicated to the promotion of the professional dart players in South Africa and globally. Our Corporate Social Investment (CSI) policy is to ensure we create employment opportunities within SAPDO, assist the sport of darts in all spheres, and to assist with social matters where darts can bring positive growth in our communities locally in South Africa.