Patrick Chaplin: Ladies Darts in South Africa

The South African ladies darts association

Darts South AfricaIt’s about time I gave some attention to the Ladies game. Here’s a piece I wrote in 1996 about ladies darts in South Africa.

Although ladies in South Africa had played darts socially long before 1974 it was not until that year that the idea of a Ladies Darts Association was conceived and seen through to fruition.

Forming the South African Ladies Darts Association was the brainchild of Harold Aylward of East London who had played darts for many years in the country’s Border League and who had played in many of the men’s national tournaments. He discussed his proposal with a well-known ladies’ darts-player, Marie Joubert, and together they planned the inauguration of the Association to correspond with the South African Dart Association’s Men Championships in Cape Town in August 1974.

A letter had been sent out from Marie, as Secretary of the Border Ladies Dart Association, on 20 May 1974 to all known leagues and a massive seventeen clubs expressed an interest. An initial meeting of all interested parties took place in an hotel in Umtata. This led to the inauguration of the South African Ladies Darts Association on 31 August 1974 at Gordon’s Bay, Cape Town.

A committee was established and five Office-Bearers were selected from their number namely, Mrs. C. Vance (President), Mrs. F. Brink (Vice President), Mrs. M. Joubert (Secretary / Treasurer) and Mrs. I. Veronie and Mrs. K. Traut (Both Executive Members).

The first South African Ladies Darts Championships were held one year later from 6-9 August 1975 at the Fort Glamorgan Prisons Service Recreation Club Hall, East London. Nine Provinces participated in 1975 and this had risen to twenty-one by the following year and in 1995 there were no less than thirty-eight.

Previously darts in South Africa had only been played at competition level by men. Marie Joubert told me

"Most of the ladies started to play darts while they waited for husbands and friends who were playing in league or club matches. Some of the ladies played as far back as 1947 before they officially formed their own clubs after the S.A.L.D.A was inaugurated."

So after 1974 darts clubs had their own women’s sections, run by women for women. As Marie Joubert pointed out the S.A.L.D.A. was run entirely by women with no men on the committee.

So how did the men take to all this? Marie said “They were fantastic. They gave us all the help and encouragement we needed and they never ever thought that we were ‘invading their space’”.

By 1980 the S.A.L.D.A. was able to field its first Springboks side, which participated in London at international level in the British Open that year and also 1981 and 1982. In 1982 and 1983 they went to Honolulu for the Royal Hawaiian International Darts Tournament. During the years 1984 through to 1986 the Springboks represented their country in competition in Spain. The ladies looked resplendent in their outfits of yellow top, green skirt, brown shoes, stockings and green blazers. Although excellent competitors too the Springboks failed to obtain any winning positions in international games.

In 1980 the very first multi-racial province was affiliated to S.A.L.D.A., namely the Cape Peninsula Coloured Ladies Dart Association. “For many years,” Marie Joubert told me, we tried to get more multi-racial provinces to join but nobody seemed interested until a new era was formed in South Africa.”

In 1993 the original S.A.L.D.A., after running smoothly for nineteen years made way for the new S.A.L.D.A. Mrs. C. Vance, who had been President of the organisation since 1974 stood down. In 1994 it became an associated body of Darts South Africa with its own Ladies Executive Committee, consisting of Masha Hansen (President), Gillian Swift (Vice President), Mrs. A. M. Myburgh (Hon. Secretary), Mrs. M. G. Joubert (Treasurer), Mrs. D. Bam (Public Relations) and Executive Committee members Julie Fay, Pat Conyngham and Sharon Kahn. The Association had a new emblem as the former Springbok logo was, according to Marie Joubert, ‘no more accepted’. Marie became an Honorary Life Member in 1995 after over 20 years of working for women’s darts in that country.

The first ‘new’ S.A.L.D.A. Ladies Team played in Windhoek, Namibia in 1994 in their first Zone 6 Championship and came back with all the honours, winning the team event, closed doubles, closed singles, overall winners, open doubles and open singles. In fact, a clean sweep. In September 1994 the S.A.L.D.A. held its First Inaugural South African Ladies Dart Championship at the Umhlanga Rocks Hotel in Durban.

In South Africa today any woman can play ladies’ darts. There is no discrimination and no age restriction. Back in 1996 Marie Joubert said that she still had aspirations for the future as far as South African Ladies Darts were concerned. She told me “I want darts to get more scope overseas and for more darts sportswomen from abroad to come over and participate in competitions in South Africa.”

With both the PDC and the BDO affording more opportunities to female darters, let’s hope it’s not to long before Marie’s wish is fulfilled.

If anyone can provide me with an update on ladies darts in South Africa (or anywhere else on the planet for that matter) please drop me a line.

© Patrick Chaplin 1996

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