The Birth of a Team
Raymond van Barneveld had a dream for years to create his own darts team with 3 youngsters. His dream was realized in 2015, together with manager Ben de Kok they started Bengi team.
Raymond selected the first two young talents, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Mike Zuidwijk. The gamble paid off: both players participated in the Q-School in 2016 and earned their tour cards for the next 2 years.
With two youngsters, there was still a place for a third youngster named Dirk van Duijvenbode, who was still under contract at the time. His contract was taken over by the Bengi team when Dirk joined in 2016.
In 2017, Mike Zuidwijk lost his tour card when Mike chose a different path, and that same year he left the Bengi team. A year later Jeffrey and Dirk met the same fate due to various circumstances, and they both lost their tour cards.
At the same time, Manager Ben de Kok and Raymond decided to part ways. Ben was too busy with his company, “Bengi Marine Engine Repair and Trading”, a Dutch company specializing in the maintenance and repair of marine diesel engines, (four-stroke) world wide. Ben was unable to attend in tournaments. Irritations and differences of opinion arose. It was the right time to part ways.
Raymond then immediately left the Bengi darts team because no one had a tour card and poor investments had been made.
Ben de Kok still had hope in Jeffrey de Zwaan, however, but not in Jeffrey's lifestyle, which consisted of gaming, and going to bed late, etc.
In 2018, a plan to hire Jeffrey soon ensued, which helped create a routine for him. He worked in the warehouse, starting every morning at 7:45, observing what colleagues his age had to do for income- men who worked overtime, nights, weekends, and had to go abroad for many weeks, all of which reminded Jeffrey of the unique talent he had, provided he could harness it properly.
Iwe Kuitert, who worked for Bengi for 14 years and was previously the coach of Raymond van Barneveld during the period from 2000 to 2006, joined Jeffrey de Zwaan.
As manager, Ben gave both players the ability to train every day in a special dart room with their own office. This is still the routine today: training every day from 1:00pm to 4:30pm. Iwe Kuitert organized all the training sessions, and had to prepare Jeffrey for the tough job: Q-School 2018.
Jeffrey won on day one of Q-School and earned his tour card back! What followed were many daily training sessions under the constant guidance of coach Iwe Kuitert, resulting in a top year in which Jeffrey qualified for television tournaments, and would win two pro tours and a place in the Semi-Final in Blackpool at the World Matchplay.
In 2019, Jeffrey climbed up to the Top 32 of the "Order of Merit", a world-class performance, securing himself as a seeded player for the PDC World Darts Championship.
Raymond, gently moving towards the end of his career, saw this happening from the sidelines and realized that he had missed an opportunity.
It was fated that if Raymond van Barneveld could defeat the American Darin Young, he would throw his next round against Jeffrey de Zwaan. Unfortunately, it never came to that, so we will never know who would have won, since Raymond was unfortunately eliminated in the first round.
In February 2020 Raymond officially said goodbye… the AFAS theatre in Amsterdam would be transformed into “Barney Dome”. In the presence of friends and various sports celebrities, he threw his last darts in the bullseye and thus ended his career as a professional darter.
In the months after his farewell, Raymond began to doubt his decision. "Barney" missed throwing darts competitively more and more. He felt his career had not been fully realized, despite his stunning farewell, and this feeling just kept gnawing as him.
The Covid 19 pandemic didn't help either. All demos were cancelled, and the lack of darts became too much. The doubt that he had made the right choice grew into a realization that he had made a mistake, and an expensive mistake, because he had committed himself. Raymond decided to return to darts, seeking the help of his former manager/friend, and also main sponsor, Bengi BV.
After internal discussion with his pupil Jeffrey de Zwaan and coach Iwe Kuitert, manager Ben de Kok welcomed Raymond back in the team. As a 5-time champion, Raymond was the right training partner for Jeffrey and vice-versa. It was also the right combination for Q-School in January 2021, and a win-win situation for the Bengi team, and in an unusual twist, given the history of the darts team and its advancement.
After this decision, explicit agreements were made that were strictly enforced. Jeffrey is the leader of the Bengi team, even if Raymond made the Q-school, Jeffrey will still be the leader of the team.
And so the rebirth of Bengi team is complete, and they are ready to make their effort for the highest achievement possible in the world of darts.