Scott Mitchell resumes captaincy of the England team this weekend and insists playing for your country still ranks highly in what players can achieve in the sport.
The 37th British International Championships gets underway this evening, with the Glenrothes Recreation and Social Club in Fife, sold out for the three days.
Mitchell is hoping to lead the England men’s team to an eighth consecutive win in the tournament, while the ladies can make it seven victories on the bounce by triumphing this weekend.
“This is my second year as England captain and it’s always a very proud thing to do,” Mitchell said. “To follow on from the likes of Eric Bristow and Martin Adams is a huge honour for me and it’s so different to everything we do.
“I’m told there is no interest in the internationals anymore, but I’m told that the tickets sold out within an hour for this event. It’s great news for the BDO.
“It will be quite a hostile atmosphere playing in Scotland, but at the same time that’s what you come to expect.
“The Welsh have got a few new faces who are playing absolutely fantastic on the circuit and in county, so I think probably this year it could be tighter than it’s been in previous years.
“Last year was very tight. We won it by four legs on a leg count, so the other two teams will go into it this year thinking ‘we’ve got more chance this year than we’ve had in the past.’
“We’re not a team of household names as we have been in the past. The guys are being picked on their county form and hopefully we can do enough to bring it home again.”
The decision to pick the teams based on how the players perform for their county always conjures up a debate. Last year former captain Martin Adams missed out on a place in the England team, while the glaring omission in 2016 is the omission of newly-crowned world champion Scott Waites.
“I know Scott with his injury last year didn’t play as many county games in 2015 as he had to,” Mitchell explains.
“It’s such a fine line as to who gets picked because of the talent that’s in England.
“I know it’s the same for Scotland and Wales. When you’re picking an international team there’s always opinions and there are other players who could be in.
“It happened to me at the start so I do understand how the players who missed out feel, and I know how the players who were picked feel. It’s a difficult job.”
Surrey’s Dave Parletti and Hampshire’s Gemma Hayter are the two debutants for England this weekend, and Mitchell admits being picked for your country remains one of the biggest achievements in darts.
“To be honest the hardest thing to do is to break into the England squad of all the international teams, because of the depth there is in this country,” he said.
“There’s some guys who missed out who maybe feel they should not have missed out, but every time we put a team out in an England shirt they always seem to perform.
“As I did in my first one the new caps will find it difficult initially, but you’ve got to relish the chance and want to test yourself against the best.
“It’s a big thing to play for England. It’s for your family as well. They can say their son, daughter, brother, sister or cousin played for England.
“It’s not seen as a big thing because of the finances in darts now, but on a personal level and what it means to your family, it’s probably the biggest thing in darts I would say.”
England’s men’s team face a double header on Sunday in a bid to try and retain their title, as they play Wales (10.30am) and then Scotland (4.30pm) on the final day of the tournament.
“Some of my best international games I’ve played in have been in Scotland,” Mitchell said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”