Just before Kevin travels to Germany for the next European tour event tomorrow, The Artist has praised the standard of young players emerging in the PDC, after getting involved in his own ‘youth development’ programme!
Painter has been amongst darts’ elite stars for the past 15 years, winning the 2011 Players Championship Finals and reaching the 2004 World Championship final. As one of the sport’s long-serving stars, Painter has been at the forefront of the PDC’s amazing expansion into a £6 million-plus tour over the past decade, and he starred in the 2012 Premier League Darts.
Kevin, ranked 12th in the PDC Order of Merit, has enjoyed many great tussles with darts’ standard-setter Phil Taylor, and believes that the young players looking to emulate the World Champion are helping to raise the standard of top-level darts even higher.
“I’ve been playing pretty well recently, but you can certainly tell that the standards are improving ridiculously year on year,” said Painter.
“More and more younger players are getting involved in the sport, which is great to see, and it’s really improving the standards.”
Painter’s comments come as he announced his support for the Academy Association scheme at his beloved Ipswich Town FC, where he has become a high-profile supporter of the club’s youth development system.
“I thought it was a great initiative by the club and because I’m fortunate to be in a position to help out, I contacted Milts [Academy Sponsorship Manager Simon Milton] and got involved,” added Painter.
“It’s a nice gesture to be able to help the Academy out and I’m delighted to be involved.
“Ipswich have always been regarded as a club that produced top you players and that seems to have died down a bit recently, but hopefully this project will help recover that and we may have more and more top local players progressing through the Academy and into the first team.”
Painter’s support for the Academy Association was recognised when he was introduced on the Portman Road pitch ahead of Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Yeovil Town, with the victory making his one of his rare visits to Ipswich especially memorable.
“Even though I know I can’t be there every week, I still buy a season ticket out of loyalty and I’m happy knowing that my money is going to the club,” he said.
“I go whenever I can but I get to around seven home games a season – Saturday fixtures are pretty much a write-off for me and I mainly rely on the midweek games.
“If it was up to me I would be there week in, week out, but unfortunately work commitments take over.”
Kevin Painter is pictured with Ipswich Town Academy Sponsorship Manager Simon Milton. Image courtesy of ITFC.
For further information on the Ipswich Town Academy Association, visit www.itfcacademy.com.