By David Gold

Boccia generalOctober 28 - Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association (SWDA) has signed a deal with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) to promote boccia.

The APC will provide funding and support to help deliver greater coaching and competition opportunities for boccia players in the country.

APC chief executive Jason Hellwig spoke of his hopes for the sport after the agreement was signed.

"Opportunities for people with more severe disabilities to participate in sport are too limited and the APC is well aware that this must change," Hellwig said.

"There is still a lot of hard work ahead of us and our program partners before Australia can be a competitive force in boccia at the Paralympic Games, but we're moving in the right direction."

Boccia is one of three Paralympic sports without an Olympic counterpart, and sees competitors take it in turns to throw or kick a leather ball as close as possible to a small white ball serving as a target.

"From our perspective, we're enthusiastic about promoting boccia and we see this as a vital opportunity to create more awareness of the sport, and more competition for players," said Ray Epstein, the chief executive of the SWDA.

"Our Association has worked very well on projects with the APC over a long period of time, and we're looking forward to achieving more good results for this programme."

The APC Boccia Programme Coordinator will be Paul van Oosten, who will be charged with working with the SWDA on the iniative, and he said that "this partnership is all about developing a sustainable grass roots platform on which we can grow the sport of boccia in Queensland.

"Success will largely depend on how effectively schools, service providers and disability organisations are engaged in the program, which in turn will be the catalyst for the identification of more athletes in rural, regional and metropolitan areas," he added.

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