‘Once You Catch The Bug You Realise..It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Playing One Of The Lads’

Dubliner, Katie Sheldon is breaking down stereotypes as she turns heads in the male dominated sport of darts. We catch up with the darts star to chat about her strikingly successful young career.

‘Once You Catch The Bug You Realise..It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Playing One Of The Lads’ ‘Once You Catch The Bug You Realise..It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Playing One Of The Lads’
Alanna Cunnane

17-year-old Katie Sheldon retires the statement ‘they have a girl on their team’ as a “silly excuse” when it comes to her passion and area of expertise; darts.
The Dublin teenager's journey in darts began in her attic when she was just nine year’s old.  It was  “an instant love” from the very first dart she ever threw.
“My granddad had a board in his house and I saw it and I kept wanting to play so eventually my dad got me my own board in the house because me and him used to watch the darts all the time.”
“I just kept practicing and practicing” she says.
By the age of 12-years-old, Sheldon was competing nationally and with very few girls playing at the time, she often found herself competing against boys.

Fast forward a couple of years, the Dublin teen is now a National Singles, World Singles and All Ireland champion, with a never-say-die attitude. So much so is her undeniable talent, Sheldon has been signed by darts manufacturer, Target Darts, the manufacturer her darts hero Phil Taylor was also sponsored by.
“When I first started playing darts I always looked up to Phil Taylor and he’s a sixteen-time world champion, so I loved him! Anyone who knows me knows that my Facebook used to just be flooded with posts about him and all sorts, so he was definitely someone that I looked up to” she says.
With dart’s crowded with presumptions from outsiders of the sport demining it to a pub game for men, the 17-year-old remains steadfast in smashing that stereotype.
“I don’t know if people are maybe a bit intimidated by playing against men or whatever, but I think once you catch the bug and once you start playing and feel comfortable, you then realise that you just have to take it as another thing.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re playing one of the lads, if you’re playing an older man, if you’re playing a woman, you just have to get on with it” she says.
Now the focus of a documentary entitled 'Seven Feet Nine and a Quarter Inches’, Sheldon illustrates the obvious factor of the range between a darts player and the board, but also the “distance between you and failure”.
The documentary, named after the distance between a darts player and a dart board, features Sheldon's defiance of paving the way for girls in darts.
“Darts is one of these sports that some days it goes for you and some days it doesn’t, and the days that it doesn’t go your way you just have to take a step back and look at the positives” says Sheldon.
She depicts being the subject of the documentary as an “absolute experience and a half” as it explores her triumph over adversity through the darts world and also her relationships with teammates, competitors and “best friend”, her dad Stephen.
“I’m not just saying that because he’s my dad, he genuinely is. If I’m not having a good day while I’m playing he’ll take me outside and say “look just relax it’s alright”. But he definitely spurs me on and im so thankful to have someone in my corner who is just there for my own goodness”.

With the documentary set to take part in the Shorts section of the Dublin International Film Festival next week Katie is keen to showcase that “The main message is that anything Is possible”.
“It doesn’t matter about what you’re doing or what sport you’re playing but if you just put your mindset into something and put as much work in as you can anything is possible”.
In 2019, Fallon Sherrock became the first woman to ever beat a man at a darts World Championship. The pathway and role model is there for Dublin's Sheldon to pave her own way in the sport and hopefully one day achieve greatness on the highest stage.


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