Wagga High School’s rookie boccia team crowned Riverina champions

PLAYERS AND COACHES: Jelesp Bootes, 18, Shami Mato, 17, Nagham Mato, 14, Fletcher Longmore, 17, Hannah Baker, 17, Cameron Abood and Rory Leighton-Popple.
PLAYERS AND COACHES: Jelesp Bootes, 18, Shami Mato, 17, Nagham Mato, 14, Fletcher Longmore, 17, Hannah Baker, 17, Cameron Abood and Rory Leighton-Popple.

Wagga High School’s rookie boccia team has made it to the state finals in their first year of competition.

The five players have been crowned Riverina champions and will now compete at Homebush in Sydney on August 14 in a 16-team competition to win the NSW title.

Boccia is an officially sanctioned Paralympics sport that is similar to bocce, but adapted for players who use wheelchairs.

Teacher Cameroon Abood introduced boccia to Wagga High this year, after having successfully brought it to Billabong High School at Culcairn.

When the Wagga High students first began playing, they used a length of pipe until their official wooden ramp arrived.

Mr Abood said the students try to train a couple of times a week.

“They just love it,” he said.

Included in the team are brother and sister duo Shami and Nagham Mato, Yazidi refugees who have only been at Wagga High for about a year after leaving Iraq for a new life in Australia.

Shami Mato, Jelesp Bootes, Fletcher Longmore, Hannah Baker and Nagham Mato in action. Pictures: Les Smith

Shami Mato, Jelesp Bootes, Fletcher Longmore, Hannah Baker and Nagham Mato in action. Pictures: Les Smith