Devon Petersen: South African star committed to darts' global expansion
"I know back at home in South Africa a lot of the players are putting in the time and effort"
By Cameron Hogwood
Last Updated: 13/12/19 2:02pm
Devon Petersen is dedicated to helping darts players from across the world follow their dreams of competing professionally - just as he has been able to.
The charismatic South African has developed into something of a trailblazer for darts in his home nation amid his own mission to support the game's growth beyond the United Kingdom and Europe.
December's World Championship is a reflection of that common goal paying dividends, with a joint-record 28 different nations set to be represented at Alexandra Palace.
Petersen told The Darts Show podcast: "That just shows the diverse culture in the sport itself.
"It's being played in every corner, it's just that those smaller places don't get the recognition or experience that obviously is pumped into the UK and European game. I'm sure it will grow in stature around those places as well.
"The biggest thing is the financial backing. Getting players over here to the UK does cost an arm and a leg, it's just taking a leap of faith and putting the effort into the game.
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The Asp returns to Ally Pally, 12 months after announcing himself to the world with a spectacular run to the last four.
"I know back at home in South Africa a lot of the players are putting in the time and effort, especially the young players because they've seen exactly what I've achieved on TV and commentating and just being able to live your dream.
"I remember being a 14/15-year-old growing up with darts and then seeing the likes of Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld and thinking this could be my living."
"Lucky for me I met the right people at the right time and performed at the right places and now I'm living my dream which is fantastic."
Petersen on pursuing his darts dream
Petersen is now playing a personal role in helping to unearth and cultivate stars of the future.
'The African Warrior' has already set up The Last Man Standing competition, which offers the winner an opportunity to represent South Africa alongside Petersen at the World Cup of Darts.
He added: "I've injected some of my personal finances to rejuvenate it (darts in Africa) and get it to a level where we can compete because we do have players that are potentially good enough to play on the tour and represent South Africa on the PDC circuit.
"There's a schooling programme starting to kick off in South Africa so the more we play the sport in communities the quicker it will grow. Hopefully in 2020, we can push the JDC (Junior Darts Corporation) into Africa as well.
"We've got loads of things coming up in 2020 and hopefully we can bring the World Series to Africa in 2025 which is a massive pipeline dream but a dream nonetheless."
Petersen enters his seventh career appearance at the World Championship in fine form after winning the recent Darts Dazzler XIII.
The 33-year-old opened the exhibition by beating Michael Smith before overcoming Lorraine Winstanley in the semi-final and then Glen Durrant in the final.
He'll be hoping to retain that encouragement when he gets his tournament underway on day one against Luke Humphries in the first round.
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Petersen continued: "I've come through the likes of Michael Smith and Lorraine Winstanley, who beat Raymond van Barneveld the game before me, and then beating Duzza 4-1 in the final which is obviously perfect timing.
"Any win against any of the top boys is great because it puts you in the right mental space.
"My practice has been phenomenal and my last four months in the PDC on the pro tour my averages have been between say 95 to 110 which is kind of where you need to be if you're going to go toe to toe with the big boys in the sport so I'm really excited.
"It's probably the best form I've been in going into any worlds I've ever played and compared to last year I had no form and reached the last 16, this year I'm coming in with great form."
Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts - the action is back on your Sky Sports screens in December with the World Championship from Alexandra Palace. It all gets underway on Friday, December 13.