Dirk van Duijvenbode has become the latest Dutch talent to join Raymond van Barneveld’s darting stable, following in the footsteps of his compatriots Jeffrey de Zwaan and Mike Zuydwijk.
Van Duijvenbode confirmed on social media that he was to depart ‘The Sportsman Management company’ and join ‘Team Bengi’, where van Barneveld, De Zwaan and Zuydwijk all ply their trade.
Van Duijvenbode becomes the latest acquisition for Bengi, as van Barneveld expands his growing net of Dutch prodigies. Dirk enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2015. Although the 23-year-old was unable to secure a tour card at Q-School twelve months ago, he thrived on the youth tour, and reached two Players Championship quarter-finals.
Dirk posted a nine-darter on the development tour, and his consistency on the Pro Tour, like De Zwaan, saw him qualify for the European Championships in October, which marked his TV debut. He lost 6-2 to Justin Pipe, but this was valuable experience for the Dutchman, which saw him secure qualification for the World Championships at Ally Pally.
Ironically, van Barneveld and van Duijvenbode met in the opening round of the Worlds, where Barney was a 3-0 victor. The pair have an extremely close bond; they both play for the same county side, and it was van Barneveld who recommended Dirk to his sponsor Unicorn, around two-years ago.
The 23-year-old Dutchman has since broken into the world’s top 64 by virtue of qualifying for last month’s World Championships at Alexandra Palace, and on his official Facebook account, he claims he is focused on ‘making new steps in his career’ as he heads down this ‘new road’.
Van Barneveld reacted to the news of van Duijvenbode’s arrival at ‘Team Bengi’ on his Facebook account. Barney said:“Immediately I called Dirk van Duijvenbode to welcome him to the Bengi team. Along with Jeffrey De Zwaan and Mike Zuydwijk, we hope we can be a good guide.”
The Five-Time world champion , when talking of Dirk and the team added: ‘The objective is to qualify for the European Championships and the World Championships, and also gain some good experience on the European tours. I cannot wait to go back to work with the boys.’
Van Duijvenbode was also understandably delighted to join up with the Dutch trio. “I hope this new road allows me to better myself, develop and make further steps in my career. I have known Raymond, Jeffrey and Mike for years, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Twelve months ago, De Zwaan and Zuydwijk were both part of a team initially put together by Raymond, his manager Jaco van Bodegom, and his sponsor Bengi, to support and develop young Dutch stars. De Zwaan and Zuydwijk both secured tour cards on the opening day of Q-School in 2015, and they both made great strides throughout the year.
Zuydwijk qualified for the UK Open and reached the last 96 stage, defeating three-time World Champion John Part in the second round. He was unfortunate not to qualify for the World Championships, but he made a considerable impression on the Development tour, averaging over 130 in one game.
However, De Zwaan enjoyed a tremendous 2015. He also qualified for the UK Open, and claimed a number of high-profile Pro Tour scalps, beating the likes of Phil Taylor, Michael Smith, Stephen Bunting and Jelle Klaasen.
The 19-year-old, nicknamed ‘The Black Cobra’ made his PDC TV debut at the European Championships, losing 6-2 to Michael van Gerwen. Jeffrey also produced a magnificent performance in taking Michael Smith to a sudden-death leg in the first-round of last month’s World Championships.
It’s abundantly clear that the legendary Dutchman has had a positive influence on both De Zwaan and Zuydwijk, and van Duijvenbode will be hoping to replicate the accomplishments of his younger compatriots.
Raymond has been a tremendous ambassador for Dutch darts spanning over a 25-year period; it’s fantastic to see his dedication to mentoring and developing the future of Dutch darts. We look forward to following Dirk’s progress in 2016; he is an immensely talented player, and under Raymond’s stewardship, he is poised to go from strength-to-strength.