PDC announces youth tour

PDC Unicorn Youth Tour to give young darts players a ‘stepping stone’ to the professional game

The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has announced plans for a 2011 UK tour to help youth players move from academies to the professional circuit.

The PDC Unicorn Youth Tour will be comprised of 15 events, each with £2,000 prize money, to be played during PDC ProTour weekends, beginning in Derby on February 19. Entry to the events will be open to all players aged 14-21

There will also be a £30,000 PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship, and the prize money won will form an Order of Merit, from which players will qualify for PDC ProTour cards in 2012 and other rewards.

The PDC recently staged the inaugural PDC Unicorn Under-21 World Championship, with Arron Monk beating Michael van Gerwen in the final at Alexandra Palace on January 3.

PDC director Rod Harrington said: “The PDC Unicorn Youth Tour will be the perfect stepping stone not only in their playing careers but also to give the players of the future the experience of playing in a professional environment.

“I was so impressed with the standard of play in the PDC Unicorn Under-21 World Championship recently that it has only encouraged us to step forward with our plans for the PDC Unicorn Youth Tour.”

Monk beat van Gerwen in front of 2,500 fans on Monday ahead of the final of the World Championship, which itself was won by Adrian Lewis who edged out Gary Anderson 7-5 on sets.

The PDC said gate receipts for the World Championship, combined with the 2011 Premier League Darts season, which begins on February 10 at London’s O2 arena, have passed £1m for the first time.

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn said: “Crowds at PDC tournaments have increased remarkably in recent years and we have welcomed almost 40,000 fans to Alexandra Palace in the past fortnight for the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship.

“Additionally, around 80,000 fans will watch the Premier League Darts season over the 15 weeks in venues as far afield as Belfast, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Exeter, with many arenas already close to being fully sold out.

“Darts is enjoying a tremendous boom at present, as Phil Taylor’s recognition in being voted in second place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards recently shows.

“We gave a new crop of hungry, exciting and talented players within the PDC and they are being given the greatest stage to play on.”