Along with St Helen’s and Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton is considered a hotbed of darting aptitude, the JDC West Midlands Junior Darts Academy aims to the keep that trend going by continuing to produce top notch dartists. 

Current head coach at the academy Martyn Harper took the reigns in Tipton just six months ago but has seen a dramatic improvement in numbers and standard since his involvement. 

Harper told me that he jumped at the opportunity to take on a flourishing darts academy after original coach Russell Dingley had to leave due to work commitments. 

He said: “I’ve got 27 years of darts experience, my better playing days are over, so I’d like to pass the experience that I have on teaching kids how to play darts. I liked what I saw when Russ originally took the academy on. He asked me if I knew anybody that would want to take it on, but I immediately said, ‘I’ll take it on’, it was an easy decision.”

With the likes of Alfie Jacques and Connor Pickett now regularly attending the academy on Sunday evenings, Harper believes the academy has the potential to produce professional standard talents in years to come. But said he was envious of the prospects at the grassroots level of the game in 2019:  

“I’m a little bit jealous that when I was young, I didn’t have anything like this at all. But we have to go with the times, and I aim to keep it going with West Midlands academy. I know for a fact that since I took it on five months ago the academy has doubled in size. It’s gone from 18 kids to around 41 juniors now which is fantastic to see.”

Despite taking on the bulk of the workload in his hours off, Harper is thankful of all the support he receives towards the running of the academy. He mentioned an array of people that have contributed towards the weekly running of the academy since he took it on. 

“We’re lucky that we get Allen’s Sports Bar for free, so that always helps towards the academy. The parents are fantastic, they get involved with marking or anything else that they can. 

“DartsGearForYou have been very helpful. He already has his son in the academy but provides us with plenty of equipment to keep us going. I’m a bit pig-headed saying that I’m fine without the help, but he’s always adamant he can help, which I am very grateful for.”

Regardless of the thriving numbers in the West Midlands, Harper is keen to add more prospects to his ever-growing portfolio of talent in Tipton. If you or your child would like to attend West Midlands Darts Academy, you can contact Martyn Harper at 07429198702 or visit the academies Facebook page.

Eye on Academy will be a feature on academies around the UK. More features coming soon from Josh Green. 

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