Schools darts league a first for Mitchell’s Plain and the city

Alister Porthen, centre, and company at the launch of Mitchell’s Plain schools darts league, at Westridge High. Also pictured are, from left 180 Plus facilitator, Donavan Pickering; Porthen’s nephew Connor de Klerk, who is visiting from Australia and a second year exercise and sports science student at Deacon in Melbourne; Nolan Arendse (pro DSA) Darts SA president Graham Stark and Arnold Joseph, 180 Plus facilitator.

Darts enthusiast Alister Porthen, 60, from Morgens Village, might just have the answer to help youngsters ease back into swing of school things, with the launch of the Mitchell’s Plain schools darts league, at Westridge High, a fortnight ago.

Considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown and the ensuing disruption of their schooling, it’s hardly surprising that some may be a bit rusty now that some form of normality has returned.

Porthen, formerly from Westridge and a member of Belair Darts Club, an affiliate of the Mitchell’s Plain Recreational Association (MPRA), says the sport is an ideal way to help improve concentration, hand-eye-coordination and increase one’s ability to do mental maths.

The launch of the school darts league follows on the establishment of his 180-Plus programme, established in 2019, to promote darts as a school sport.

With a 30-year involvement in the sport and a background in corporate training and development, Porthen spent countless hours following his retirement three years ago, to fine tune his programme to try to get it adopted in schools.

After knocking on many doors over the past few years, across the city and beyond, schools from Mitchell’s Plain to Khayelitsha, the Western Cape Education Department and Darts SA endorsed the programme.

In what is considered a first for the city and possibly the country, it had attracted enough interest to set in motion plans to start a league.

“180 is the highest score that you can achieve on a dartboard ( with three darts). That’s exactly what we do with the programme. We aim high, “ he said.

He said the roll out of the programme started with schools in Mitchell’s Plain that MPRA youngsters attend and later expanded to include the surrounding schools.

“The aim of the schools’ league is to integrate darts at schools level through the federations, to produce national youth players that can grace the world stage,to increase awareness and membership nationally and to have darts at schools as an alternate and accepted code.

He said the ultimate goal is to introduce the programme to the entire Western Cape region and nationally. Although happy to have the league off the ground, Porthen was quick to point out that it has not been without its fair share of challenges, including a lack of funding and the cost of travel and communication. “it takes at least three visits per school before implementation of the program).Half the 34 schools currently on the programme are still without equipment,” he said.

Colorado Park resident and Darts SA President, Graham Stark, the former principal of Eastville Primary School, also attended the launch, saying their wish that the 180 Plus Programme will be a vehicle to drive the growth of our sport and increase participation as well as membership.

“This will grow the sport, ” he said, “ It makes the sport accessible to learners of school-going age and promotes mass participation. It provides an opportunity for more people to learn and play the sport and, thereby, get more people involved.”

Stark added that Darts SA is also busy with programmes to involve persons with disabilities in the sport and are also promoting the sport at universities with a view to having a universities league.

For more information about the 180 Plus programme or the schools league, email alisterh.porthen@gmail.com or call 066 126 3300.