Whakatāne darts player selected for World Champs in Romania

By Piripi Taylor

A Whakatāne darts player will be representing NZ for the very first time on the international stage at the World Champs in Romania in October. Sharlene Maru-Habib of Ngāti Awa and Tainui is one of five Māori selected in the NZ Team at the NZDC National Championships this week.

Fresh off the plane from the National Champs in Motueka, the newest member of the NZ Darts team selected for the World Champs in October is looking forward to a well-earned rest.

"I'm feeling good, but it's been a long week and I'm pretty tired at the moment," says Maru-Habib.

During five days of competition, Maru-Habib was runner-up in the Ladies Open, winner in the Ladies Pairs and went on to win the Ladies Singles on the last day of competition on Friday.

"I've been setting goals for the last three years," she says.

"I was picked for the (National Tournament) B team, then they made me captain the next year and then I had a goal to make the A-Team. Got that, and my goal this year was just to win a title."

She joins Tina Osborne from Auckland's West City, who is attending her second World Champs after being selected for the first time in 2017.

"She's had that opportunity to shine and this week she did," says Osborne. 

"So she secured her spot by doing that.  She gave me a hard time too, so yeah she deserves a spot."

It's a family affair for Mrs Maru-Habib, whose mum, husband and children are all prominent in the Whakatāne Darts Association.

"Oh, it's massive, it's an awesome achievement," her brother Charlie Maru says. 

"For me, it's just a bit of validation really and years of how much commitment she's put into it, not only for seniors you know, she's been an advocate for the junior darts.  Follows the junior darts, raises money for the junior darts."

Maru-Habib was accompanied by her sister Veronica Maru in Motueka.

"She is a role model for me," says Veronica.

"She's an ambassador for the Whakatāne Darts Association, for Region 4, for Mātaatua and Te Arawa as well." 

So how does one prepare to go to the World Champs to play against the best in the world?

"I don't practice, I never have and I'm not gonna start now," says Maru-Habib.

"To me, it's a mental game, and yeah, hand and eye coordination."

The NZ team leaves for the Worlds in Romania on October 12 where they hope to bring some titles home to the whānau.