Column #CM19 Interview with Brazil’s Diogo Portela
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Interview with Brazil’s Diogo Portela
Congratulations on being invited to the PDC World Cup to represent your country! Have you ever take part in this kind of tournament?
Thank you very much! I’ve played the WDF World Cup, America’s Cup and Caribbean Cup representing my country but nothing like PDC World Cup. That’s definitely the biggest tournament of my life.
Do you already know who your partner will be?
No, I don’t know yet. There will be a tournament to qualify the second player.
So a qualifier will decide who’ll join you?
Yes, Brazil will take the winner of Brazilian Cup (a major tournament that happens on the 6th and 7th of May) as my partner in the World Cup.
Will you prepare in any special way for the event?
That is the plan. I’ve been practicing with James Wade and hopefully I can make the most of it in the next month. Also I will take some time off from work to be able to practice more hours per week.
Do you look forward to being part of a team? Or do you prefer to play alone?
I look forward to playing in the PDC World Cup. I never been a team player to be fair as it changes a little bit my rhythm, but I’ve been getting good results recently in some local pairs tournaments and that helps the confidence.
How popular is the sport of darts in Brazil?
It’s a minor sport to be honest. We used to be bigger but lost our main sponsors in 2005 due to legislation changes. Now, new federations have been created and people are working hard to get back to old times. I strongly believe it will be back!
Does there exist some kind of national organization? And might there be a national championship or other big tournaments?
Yes, it does. There is the Brazilian Federation of Darts which is WDF associated. However, new people founded a new organization – a more professional (JDB) organisation. These people have already gotten some good sponsors and have been running great competitions over the last 3 years.
You did take part in a few WDF tournaments?
Yes, I went to 2005 WDF World Cup of Darts in Perth, Australia, and also in 2013 – Canada. I also played the Winmau youth in 2004 in the UK, some America’s Cups, and a few other BDO events last year. But not many.
Have you got some kind of league system in Brazil?
Yes. There are state leagues. There are federations in 4 states/cities: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Goiânia, and Brasília. Each of these federations runs their own leagues throughout the year. We also have 3 national tournaments.
Where exactly from Brazil do you come from?
I’m from Rio de Janeiro – lived most of my life 15 minutes away from the Copacabana.
Did you play on a team there?
I used to represent Rio in the national tournaments which includes team games, yes.
And where do you play darts in Brazil – in pubs, clubs, or maybe private homes?
There are some pubs I used to play in. The Lord Jim Pub in Ipanema and the Big Ben Pub in Botafogo (which is my favorite) were the closest from me. But I played in many others as well. I also practiced alone at home.
Is there some interest in the sport in Brazil? Or perhaps darts on TV?
We used to have our Brazilian Championship streamed on TV. But the lack of sponsors and people willing to work for darts let us down. Now we are getting back into the media again. Hopefully we can get back on TV.
Where did you buy your equipment when you still lived in Brazil – are there dart shops or did you have you to order everything on the Internet?
We used to have people bringing equipment from US but recently it’s all online. There are many options online so the players are more comfortable to buy their own equipment that way.
How did you come into contact with the sport?
My dad used to play and he’s always been one of the top 5 players in Brazil. He split with my mom when I was two and moved to a city 500 km away from where I lived. I never had proper time with my dad when I was young. Then I realized if I started playing darts I could meet him at least once a month, so I did. And that was the best thing I’ve ever done!
Did you have a role model or idol when you started to play?
Yes. I’ve got two national players and three international. My dad and Mauricio Maia as nationals. Dad always got good results in national tournaments and Mauricio reached the semifinals at the WDF World Cup in 2005. International players I can say Tony David, Barney, and John Part. They were the first from their countries and something I want to copy.
Is being a dart player something exotic in your home country?
Oh yes, definitely!
Is it more steel-darts that is played or more soft-darts in Brazil?
I’ve seen people playing soft-tip but have no idea how big it is to be fair. I know only steel tip players.
Why did you decide to make the move to England?
I have in my mind that dart has brought my dad back to me so I own darts something as special as this. I want to make darts big in Brazil and South America so I’ll do all I can to make it happen.
And why did you decide to give the PDC a try?
I actually never thought about BDO. I’ve played a few events only. But my efforts were always into the PDC circuit. I’ve played two years in the challenge tour. PDC is more organized and it is where the best players in the world are. It is where I want to be.
Do you have supporters and fans back home?
Yes, everyone that knows me back home supports me. It’s impressive!
Where do you live now in England?
In Barnes, London.
Is your family with you in England?
There are two brothers and their wives living with me in London. The rest of the family is in Brazil.
Have you ever before been in Europe?
Yes, I’ve been to England for the Winmau youth in 2004.
Do you have any sponsors?
Yes, Darts Performance Centre gives me the equipment I need.
What is your profession?
I’ve got a degree in Economics and a Master in Business Management and Marketing. Not common in the darts world though. In England I have already worked as waiter, VBA programmer and most recently as a math teacher in a school.
Can you work in your profession in England?
Yes, I can. But I’ve been working as teacher assistant for the last four months. Math subject mostly.
Do you like England?
Yes, I love it! It’s impossible to play darts at the beach in Rio de Janeiro
How hard is the competition in the PDC?
Very hard. Anyone can beat anyone. I am still getting experience and hopefully I can be ready for next year.
What is you plan relating the Pro Tour – to play the Challenge Tour events or to take part only in the European Tour qualifiers and in the Players Championships when you are invited as an Associate member?
Unfortunately I missed the first two Challenge Tour weekends but I’ll be back in the next one. I’m currently on holidays in Brazil visiting family and helping the Brazilian Federation to run the qualifying. When I come back I intent to play as many tournaments as I can.
What are you long-term goals?
I don’t set targets anymore. But it would be lovely be an established PDC player and if I get some luck maybe become the first Brazilian world champion. Can you imagine!
Would you say you have already improved since playing in the PDC?
Yes, a lot! Mainly mentally. I’m really strong mentally now and I’ve never been before. It really helped me.
Are you now member of an English team and do you play league somewhere?
I play London super league and county every time I can.
Do you practice alone or do you have practice partners here in England?
I love practicing alone but I’ve also been practicing with James Wade recently. To be fair, it doesn’t matter for me as long as I’m playing darts.
How do you practice? Have you got special routines?
I’ve got a book from the Darts Performance Centre with some games but I also have loads of variants in a notebook. So I pick and choose – what I do depends on what I want to improve.
And how much do you practice?
It’s been difficult recently with work to be honest. I usually practice about four hours with James once a week. Then a few more hours at home once or twice a week. And weekends I’m always in tournaments including local Opens
How did you come in contact with the Darts Performance Centre?
Through the tournament they hold in November. There was when I got in touch with Paul Gillings.
Did it help you with your practice?
Yes, a lot! The book and the tips he’s giving to me helped me a lot.
What do you think about video analysis? Did it help you?
When I started doing the videos I had lost my last super league game with 21 average per dart. It was in May, 2016. In January 2017, I almost got my tour card. I think that explain a lot of what I think about the video analysis. Lol!.
Are you interested in topics like sports psychology and coaching?
Yes, I always read. I’ve read a few different books about darts and many articles about psychology. I’m also enjoying James Wade as my mentor. I can say I’m a very dedicated and passionate student and always willing to improve.
The DPC produced you signature darts – which darts did you use before?
Loads. Lol! Since I moved from Brazil I had been trying different sets as Harrows didn’t produced the darts I used any more (Atlantis, 21g). Then I tried about 10 different sets. Andy Hamilton’s was the one I played with the longest, but I never felt as comfortable as I am with my own set.
And what is special about your signature darts?
I think the shape of the darts is something I had never tried before. Apart from that it’s quite smooth with the Brazilian colours on it.
Are you one of those players who play a lot around with their set-up?
Not really. That’s funny as I’ve used exactly the same flight since 2012 and the length of the stem has been the same since 2009 (I’ve changed only the colours). What I used to change was actually the barrel itself. Not anymore.
Are you interested in other sports as well? Or did you compete in any other sport before?
As a proper Brazilian I almost made it into professional football but had an injury in a crucial moment that put me off the field for one year. Never managed to get back. I still play every now and then in England but I’m not as interested as I used to be, although I love it every time I play. It’s funny as well because I don’t follow football on TV. Only darts.
You already qualified for an European Tour event of the PDC – did you enjoy the experience?
It was lovely. I want to come back. Never felt more comfortable in my life as on that stage!
Do you like playing on stage?
Was lovely. Really enjoyed the experience and I want to come back again and again…
Was the European Tour event the first time for you on stage?
Not really. Some of the local tournaments in England have their own stage, including the tournament Paul runs in November. I also represented London County and all matches for county are on stage. Of course, none was as big as the European Tour, but you can get a bit of experience.
Is it difficult for you to play against all those big names of the sport?
Yes, mainly for me having been born far away from this world I used to watch them all on TV. They were my heroes, TV stars – and suddenly I’m facing them at the oche. But it’s something you get used to. I have huge respect for every single dart player and I can say I get on with everyone I get to know.
What fascinates you most in darts?
It depends only on you to do well. No one else to blame in case of mistakes. It helped me a lot. I’m more mature with different problems I have in my life and I face them differently. I can say darts has changed my personality a little bit and I’ve gotten to know myself better because you are the only person you need to deal with when you are playing darts.
Have you got any interests or hobbies outside darts?
I like to watch some TV series and movies. Barbecue it’s something that I’m always up to as well mainly – if it’s the Brazilian barbecue!
Thank you very much for this interview opportunity and best of luck with your career!