Jan Dekker is one of the few players in the world’s top 64 who has a second job in addition to his darts career. On weekdays, Dekker plies his trade as a specialist in corporate finance at his business, Noordfin.
Dartsnews.com went to talk business with Dekker. There was also time to discuss some darts, including his debut at Lakeside, changes within the PDC and his future plans.
‘Double Dekker’ graduated in 2012 from Stenden High School in Emmen, earning a Business degree. Since then, the 27-year-old Dutchman has worked in the financial sector.
”After I finished my studies, I started working as a freelancer for a company. Three years on, I have my own company. With my business Noordfin, I help business owners and real estate professionals to generate capital.”
”Much of the work I do is at home, because this world is highly digitized. Sometimes I’ll do visits, because you have to engage with entrepreneurs. First I speak with them to learn, then I make a proposition, then it is decided whether we do business with each other.”
Because Dekker combines two jobs, he has very little free time. The semi-professional darts player dais, after all, kept busy with tournaments at weekends. When Dekker heads to play at Pro Tour events in England, he won’t return home until late on Sunday. That doesn’t mean he can use his darting obligations to take Mondays off.
”A day off is not always there. But on the other hand, I also do not do this work full time. My wife and I are also working on building the family. Eighteen months ago I had a daughter, besides my wife has two children from a previous relationship. So there is always something to do, hanging out on the sofa for the day isn’t something I can do anymore.”
Yet for Dekker there’s no option to put all his eggs in the darting basket. The two-time Lakeside semi-finalist still believes the risk is too great to wind down his company.
“I like my job to go to. I would like to stay sharp and stay involved in the community. Secondly, I do not know how the darts world will look in ten years regarding sponsorship and prize money.”
”It is difficult, for both myself and my family, to take the risk to put all energy into darts. It’s not like my darts income is high enough to take it easy for the next decade. I see my job as a little safety net for my darts career. Fortunately my sponsors Loonvisie and Bulls Germany bring a little peace of mind to my eventful (darts) life.”
“My company has been around a few years, but only in the last two have I worked to ‘open up new channels’, so it’s still in its infancy. I’m now in my fourth season with the PDC, so both activities have still room for further ripening.”
Debut at Lakeside
In 2011, while Dekker was still busy with his studies, he made his debut at Lakeside. ‘Double Dekker’ immediately reached the semi-finals in the BDO’s most prestigious event.
His debut at Lakeside is Dekker’s most enduring BDO memory. ”That was wonderful. I went like hell. In my first game I beat Scott Mitchell 3-0. After a few nice wins, unfortunately I lost in the semi-finals.”
A characteristic of Dekker’s stage presence in this period was the jacket he wore during his walk-on. After his move to the PDC jacket was consigned permanently to the wardrobe.
”The jacket is in the past, it was nice then. In my BDO period I had often Cognac shoes under my trousers. Now I’m more professional in that sense. Back then I thought of my shoes, it was important that they were fun. Now I choose neat black sneakers, which I like much better when getting through the day.”
After five visits to Lakeside, Dekker decided to make the switch from the BDO to the PDC. The Dutchman revealed that it was not a difficult decision, but all options were considered before the final decision was taken.
”I’ve thought about that decision. The PDC circuit cost a lot of money, so I had to ask myself whether I wanted to invest in it. But, in a sporting and financial sense, a lot more can be gained from the PDC, which made the choice easier.”
”After my second semi-final at Lakeside (2014) I had been interested in the move, but the result at Lakeside meant I automatically qualified for the 2015 edition. When I decided in 2015, it was an easier move to make.”
‘Double Dekker’ failed to immediately capture a Tour card at Q-School in 2015. He still had no regrets. It just meant a year-long detour before his entrance onto the Pro Tour circuit.
”It was lucky that I was pretty high on the Q-School list, so I can play all the floor tournaments. That year I also made my World Championship debut (a 3-0 first round defeat to Adrian Lewis) and I finished top in the Challenge Tour, so I still deserved my Tour Card.”
Changes within the PDC
Chances are that the Dutchman will also make an appearance at the next World Championship. The PDC recently announced that the field will expand from 72 to 96 players. Tour Card holders’ chances are improving, much to Dekker’s delight.
”The PDC will increasingly globalise the sport. You don’t have to let every Tour Card holder play at the World Championship, but this was a necessary expansion. Previously there were 48 participating Tour Card holders and that isn’t very many compared to the 128 who play on the circuit all season.”
While the World Championship expansion gets Dekker’s seal of approval, there is still room for improvement. When we asked what Dekker would change if he was PDC president for the day, he pointed to the higher costs incurred by European players to play in tournaments.
”The players from the Netherlands and Belgium have to pay much more across the year, the proportions should be fairer. UK players may for instance play their Euro Tour qualifiers prior to a Pro Tour weekend, which is easier.”
”Like for Singelfingen (the European Darts Grand Prix). To qualify, you lose three days. During these days, I could also work or do something with my family. I wonder if the European Tour Card holders can stage a qualifying tournament in a different way. British players have prize money in their pockets before they even get on the plane to a European Tour event. We first need eight hours away and it is questionable whether we return even one euro.”
Back to the World Championship. Not only have the PDC announced an extension of the World Championship field, it was also announced that two women were guaranteed a spot.
”It’s a good development” says Dekker. ”On the one hand, maybe a little strange, because they have always said that there’s no distinction between men and women. There will now be a qualification for women, so how is all lumped together? It is, however, a good opportunity for the ladies. The PDC is very open in this area, anyone who wants to join in can play.”
”I think what the BDO will do is try to stifle this by prohibiting Lakeside participants from entering the PDC World Championship. This is unfortunate, because it’s not in the best interests of women’s sport.”
Last few months
After an excellent end to the 2017 season, in which Dekker raced to his first major PDC quarter-final at the Players Championship Finals, ‘Double Dekker’ suffered a small setback early on this year. Dekker, now living in Friesland, missed out on qualification for the UK Open. Yet that didn’t bear too heavily on his mind.
”The Players Championship Finals and the World Championship of course went well. Against Dimitri van den Bergh (in the second round at the Ally Pally) I did play decent. I threw a 97 average, which for such a long match is good. Not knowing how to turn that into a win wasted it, of course. ”
”In the UK Open Qualifiers, I didn’t play too badly. I lost twice with a 112 average, so it didn’t faze me. It was just bad luck. The other tournaments were average, not particularly good nor bad.”
Dekker has the next televised tournaments in his sights. Participation in the World Championship, European Championship and the Players Championship Finals are within reach. It’s a different story for the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix, the two-time Lakeside semi-finalist realises.
”Last year I reached three European Tour tournaments – it’s already five this year. Qualifying is good, but when it comes to the tournaments themselves I don’t live up to my expectations. Last year it was the opposite. To stand a chance of reaching the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix, you have to win a few rounds on the European Tour.”
The Dutchman is giving himself sufficient time to develop on the darts circuit. Dekker has set himself the goal to secure a place in the world’s top 32 within two years.
”I would like to take the steps that you now see being taken by Jermaine Wattimena, that’s also in me. You have to look at it step by step. I have set myself the objective to be in the top 32 in 2020. When this is done, I can continue to look forward.”Tags: Interview, Jan Dekker
Author: Pieter Verbeek