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Cross warns protégé Bennett against darting distractions

Phil Lanning in Darts Interviews 19 Mar 2019
Cross watches on as Bennett takes aim
Rob Cross has banned his 13-year-old protégé Leighton Bennett from having a girlfriend for over five years as he warns the youngster against darting distractions.
The Hastings star has told BDO World Youth Champion ‘Boom Boom’ to forget about girls until he wins the senior World Championship.
Cross will watch Bennett take on 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor in a special SAP clash of the generations at the Tower of London on Tuesday.
He told Live Darts: “I truly believe the only thing that can stop Leighton getting to the very top is girls. He can’t allow himself to get distracted by anything.
“We tease him a bit now about girls and he says he’s only interested in winning darts matches. But that will change in a couple of years I’m sure.
“But he has to put his personal life on hold now to concentrate on darts. If he can do that he will be a world beater. That means he has to steer clear of girls for at least five years until he starts winning major titles.
“It’s a big ask for the kid. But you have to make sacrifices to get to the top of darts now.”
Bennett became the first youngster to win back-to-back JDC titles at the weekend, his fifth title already this year after being crowned BDO Youth Champion at Lakeside in January, beating Nathan Girvan in the final.
Cross added: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as good at his age. He’s so cool under pressure and if he can keep that temperament, he’ll be hard to stop.
“The biggest issues now is not necessarily his game, it’s the growing up stuff. He’s got a lot of living to do and that’s girls and staying off social media as well.
“I think the biggest task for kids these days is not getting distracted. Getting them off Playstations and their iPhones is really tough. That will be the toughest battle for Leighton in some ways.
“He’ll have to watch his mates go out partying at the weekend when he gets to 16 and he’ll have to stay at home practising. That’s not easy. But right now I think he’ll cope with it.”