St Clair High School wins the boccia battle

The western Sydney school reigned supreme at the state championships, but the sport itself was the real winner. Glenn Cullen reports.

Image: Boccia state champions St Clair with Paralympian Dan Michel.

St Clair High School has been crowned the state boccia champions after an undefeated run through the NSW competition at Sydney Olympic Park.

On a stunning day for the increasingly popular inclusive sport, there was substantial media interest from around the state as 16 teams vied for the overall title.

St Clair’s Inclusive Education students proved formidable opponents, sweeping their round competition, winning a semi-final and then progressing to the decider where they took on Peel High School.

It was a tense finish as St Clair pulled out an extra point to claim the grand final match 3-2.

Killara High School finished third.

But the day was about far more than those who won medals, the growing popularity of the sport was there for all to see.

More than 185 schools participated in the competition, coming from as far afield as Broken Hill.

Image: Cal Shepherd with mum Megan and the Channel Nine crew.

The region’s representative school, Willyama, captured the hearts of those who came for the competition with 13-year-old Cal Shepherd having played a significant part in getting the game brought to Broken Hill.

Cal, who has cerebral palsy, had pushed hard to get the facilities required in the region last year and with the backing of the School Sport Unit’s Disability Inclusion team, saw his dream come true when it got off the ground at seven schools in December.

It was fitting that Cal and his teammates got the opportunity to take part, along with the likes of Grafton High School whose representatives had never been to Sydney before.

In all, more than 1,000 students took part in the regional and state competitions.

Paralympian Dan Michel, a former Heathcoate High School student and Australia’s first medallist in the sport in 25 years when he won bronze in Tokyo, was on hand to present to the winners and speak to competitors.

Boccia is a precision ball sport with similar elements to bocce but with its own set of rules; it can be played by people of all abilities.

Final placings for the 2022 State Boccia Championships.

1. St Clair High School
2. Peel High Schoool
3. Killara High School
4. Wellington High School
5. Fairfield High School
6. Wagga Wagga High School
7. Singleton High School
8. Windsor High School
9. Willyama High School
10. Condell Park Public School
11. Bulli High School
12. Kempsey High School
13. Grafton High School
14. Terrigal High School
15. Lake Munmorah High School
16. Sylvania High School

Image: Action from the boccia championships.
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