Two-day Abdul Gaffar Memorial national darts finals take off this Saturday at the Blantyre Sports Club (BSC) with an unfamiliar lower division guest.
For the first time in years, Blantyre and Districts Darts Leagueâ€™s (BDDL) second-tier side Luchenza Darts Team has squeezed its way into the finals. Prize giving is this Sunday at noon.
Luchenzaâ€™s presence in the finals, considered a preserve for the elite of the three regional leagues, is a sign of improved darts standards, noted Darts Association of Malawi (DAM) general secretary Joe Zangazanga.
â€œIt is encouraging to see teams from the lower division making it into a national final,â€ said Zangazanga.
Save for Luchenza, the rest of the teams making the final cut are division one clubs, including defending champions Capital Glass who lead the Lilongwe and Districts Darts League (LDDL) band of Joeâ€™s Motel, Combat Support Battalion and Kamuzu Barracks Snippers.
The other BDDL finalists are Elvis Freight CCL, Poly CEC, Staff Development Institute (SDI). Kaningâ€™ina and Mzimba are the Mzuzu and Districts Darts League (MDDL) ambassadors at the finals.
Abdul Gaffar Memorial was introduced in 1989 as a regional trophy in memory of Abdul Gaffar, (father to darts legend Rashy Gaffar) who played for Vintage Darts Club. The club was resident at the Ryalls Hotel in the 1970s.
The event was upgraded to a national trophy in 1996. Agason CCL, now Elvis Freight CCL, were the first team to win a regional trophy as well as the national tournament in 1989 and 1996 respectively.
Capital Glass (formerly BP Flights), MA Motors & North End Motors have won the tournament the most, eight times, followed by Elvis Freight CCL, who have won it four times.
Champions on Sunday will receive K65 000 (about $260), K40 000 (about $160) for the runners-up and K25 000 (about $100) for the third placed team. Player of the tournament will receive K15 000 (about $60).