Teen sensation Leighton Bennett eyeing darting domination after signing with World Champion team

Phil Lanning in Off The Oche 9 Jan 2019
Bennett practicing alongside 2018 PDC World Champion Cross

Darts whizzkid Leighton Bennett is aiming to take the sport by storm after being snapped up by Rob Cross’ management team ahead of the biggest game of his career.

Aged just 13, emerging star Bennett will take on Scotland's Nathan Girvan in the BDO World Youth final at Lakeside on Thursday.

The Lincoln ace will now have the 2018 PDC World Champion as his personal mentor and get his schooling and a full darting apprenticeship paid for by Nevada Aspire and SAP.

Bennett, who is also a member of Target's Elite 1 programme, said: "It's obviously a dream come true. To have this sort of backing is just unbelievable really.

"Ever since I beat Ricky Evans when I was 12 and go onto win the Cambridgeshire Open last year, it's been incredible.

"Ricky is part of Nevada, the same team as Rob Cross and Stephen Bunting, both former world champions, and now I'm part of the same set-up.

"Obviously right now my focus is to try and win the World Youth final but whatever happens I've got a really good future ahead."

Bennett's deal with Nevada is a “significant investment” according to SAP and includes backing with Apple products, personal insurance and private medical care.

Cross admits he is delighted to be spearheading a new generation of darts training. He believes darts must now follow the likes of football, tennis and golf.

"There's so much money in the sport now, it has to be taken up seriously as kids," said Cross, the world number two.

"If you look at the success Gareth Southgate is now getting with England football, maybe a lot of that came from the training at St George's Park.

"It's the same in tennis and golf. Andy Murray spent his school years out in Spain training as a kid to get to the standard he needed.

"Now it's the turn of darts to get that professional. SAP and Nevada have seen this and are the first to sign a player up so young. Leighton is a really bright kid and I can't wait to work with him.

"You never know he could be another English World Champion in six or seven years earning over a million by winning it. The preparation has to start now.

"SAP are involved at Manchester City, Bayern Munich and other sports. They know how to make sporting heroes."

Matthew Jeffrey, from top global software firm SAP, added: "We've been hugely impressed with Leighton’s attitude. We will give him the best possible platform to become a World Champion of the future. 

"This is a long-term project with the Nevada Aspire and has a perfect mentor in Rob Cross who will guide Leighton as well. It’s very exciting times and more to come very soon."

Jon Archer, owner of Nevada Sports Management, said: "I think this takes the sport of darts to the next level of 21st century professionalism. 

"This is effectively a scholarship for Leighton, he will get his schooling paid for and the most solid nurturing to get to the very top. We have more announcements over the next few weeks."

Victory for Bennett on Thursday afternoon would see him become the youngest ever World Youth Champion in either the BDO or PDC system.



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Teen sensation Leighton Bennett eyeing darting domination after signing with World Champion team

Darts whizzkid Leighton Bennett is aiming to take the sport by storm after being snapped up by Rob Cross’ management team ahead of the biggest game of his career.

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