Tait Jenkins, 15, has been talent spotted for the bocce junior titles in Sydney. Mireille Merlet-Shaw
Tait Jenkins, 15, has been talent spotted for the bocce junior titles in Sydney. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Tait gets to travel to bocce titles

TAIT JENKINS, 15, was born with a degenerative muscle disease that makes it difficult to complete everyday tasks, let alone play sport.

But when the Modanville teenager discovered bocce - a ball game similar to bowls - at a camp this year, it was obvious he was a natural.

Not only did he pick up an award and trophy, he was identified as a talent and invited to participate in the bocce junior titles at Sydney's Olympic Park on November 4.

Tait's mum Fiona said she and husband Royce, who is a former A-grade cricket and hockey player, had long recognised Tait's impressive hand-eye co-ordination.

She said it was exciting that her son had found an avenue for his talent.

"Even though he's got limits and challenges, it's good that he can use that," she said.

Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic disorder that results in progressive muscle weakness, and most sufferers don't live beyond early adulthood. Tait's four-year-old sister died from the disease in 2002.

The invitation to compete in Sydney came as exciting news to both Tait and the family, even though it seemed impossible.

"The first thing I said was 'how are we going to do this?'," Fiona said.

Not only would they need to find the money, both she and husband Royce would have to take time away from their small business to travel with Tait, who needs at least two carers to be with him.

With the help of the Bocce Society, Tait's school Trinity College and a $1000 cheque presented this week by former prime minister John Howard on behalf of sport charity the Lord Taverner's Brach, the trip will become a reality.

Fiona said how far he would take his talent was yet to be seen, but like any teenager, just being involved had been a great boost to his confidence.

"It's fantastic for him to excel in something," she said.



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