Cody Harris leaves family behind to become New Zealand's first pro darts player

Cody Harris has packed his bags and is on his way to England, hoping to become New Zealand's first professional darts player with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).

The 32-year-old left for England on Monday (NZ time) and will head to Wigan, where he will attend the PDC Qualifying School (January 19-22).

The qualifying school gives darts players from around the world the chance to win a two-year tour card to join the professional circuit.

In total, the PDC has 128 tour cards and at least eight are up for grabs in Wigan, while at least four can be sought at the European school in Germany.

The father of five will leave his family in New Zealand to pursue his professional dream and before jumping on the long-haul flight, he admitted to Newshub that it was a tough decision to make.

"I want to make something of myself, so I can provide for my family, my children, and to get by in life and be comfortable by doing well, he said.

"It's hard for them to let me go and not have me around, but they understand why I need to go. 

"I'm really excited. I might not look it, but I am really excited to go over and do the best you can in the sport."

The prospect of being New Zealand's first pro player doesn't phase Harris. His goal is to inspire others to take up the sport and the fact he is excited about what awaits him only helps him with his confidence.

"It's not a big deal to me, but it's got to start somewhere, so I'm happy to lead the way for the young ones, who want to have ago.

"I'm confident I will get it," Harris told Newshub. "I've had word from people over there, who know what goes on, that they have no doubt I will get it, which gives me more confidence."

The Kiwi recently got a taste of competing against the world's best, when he appeared at the PDC World Darts Championships at the Alexandra Palace. 

The 32-year-old had an impressive outing at the PDC World Championships in December.
The 32-year-old had an impressive outing at the PDC World Championships in December. Photo credit: Getty

By winning the DartsPlayers New Zealand annual qualifying event, Harris booked his ticket to London for the first time.

In his preliminary qualifier, he beat American Willard Bruguier to advance through to the main draw, but lost his first-round match to World No. 14 Ian White 3-1.

The New Zealand World Cup representative admitted that appearing at the world championships helped motivate him to make this decision.

"A lot of stage games before the world champs helped me prepare for the tournament. Playing in that, I felt comfortable and I'll keep playing up there until I feel at home.

"I was humbled to walk amongst the best in the world and to be a part of it was a dream come true itself.

"I've done a lot here in New Zealand, but I think it's time to move on and better my darts, so I have to throw myself in the deep end over there and learn how to swim."

Harris' mother, TeAmo, told Newshub that she always knew her son would make his mark.

"From about 14-year-old, when he was at school, I noticed a change, and darts helped him out a lot and put him on the right road.

"He's always had the talent and I'm glad he is going to try to fulfil his dream."

With Harris committing to his upcoming journey, he has been forced to withdraw from an exhibition featuring recently retired 16-time world champion Phil Taylor at Walter Nash Stadium on February 3.

Taylor will also compete at another exhibition in Timaru the following week and even though Harris is disappointed at missing that appointment with the legend, he knows that somebody else will benefit from taking his spot.

"It would have been nice to stay back and accommodate Phil Taylor, and get a bit of revenge, but it's good in a way, because it brings up other players who now get a shot."

With his focus set on grabbing a tour card, he has received advice from Auckland Darts Masters winner Kyle Anderson, who like Harris, left his family in Perth to become a professional darts player and is now ranked 22 in the world.

"Kyle Anderson gave me a few tips and what to expect going to qualifying school, because I have to spend a lot of time away from my family. He said I'll probably get two or three weeks with them.

"Since I have been back [from the World Championships], I've just been dedicating all my time to my family for the time we have, before I leave. 

"I will just do what I do when I get there, and there I will just throw darts and hope for the best."