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A darts champion in the making

Joshua Clare’s birthday weekend was definitely one he will remember. This budding darts champion turned 13 on Saturday 21 October and competed in the NSW State Junior Championship in Mount Druitt in the 13-18 year age group. He also danced at the disco on Saturday night, had all the people at the disco wish him happy birthday and he scored the highly respected perfect 180 points in the competition on Sunday.

If you don’t know what that means, think ‘hole-in-one’ for a golfer or ‘a century’ for a cricketer. It’s big. Very big.

It means young Joshua threw three consecutive darts into the maximum scoring area on the dart board. Most people think that’s the bull’s eye. But it’s not. It’s the smallest red rectangular bed within the black triangle under the number 20 – three darts in that red rectangle gives you a total of 180 points, the maximum a player can score during their turn in a competition.

Proud-as-punch dad, Rod Clare (pictured with Joshua), was there to see it happen and equally proud mum, Nicola, was nearby.

“Josh has a bunch of medals and trophies for the Sub Juniors, the under 12 age group, but this was the first time he’s competed against 17-year-olds,” Rod says. “He can go all the way!”

When that third dart landed Joshua was thrilled. “I just threw the darts and when I got the first two in, I knew I was going to get the third one in.”

It’s the second time he’s hit that tiny red rectangle in three consecutive throws but it’s the first time he’s achieved it during a State competition when nerves can throw you off your game.

Joshua has a mild form of cerebral palsy and as he has grown Kingswood Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) centre has helped him to maximise his potential. He has had occupational and speech therapy and been assisted by the exercise physiologist and the psychologist. Recently, he’s been using the gym at Prairiewood to increase his overall fitness and wellbeing.

Rod says his son is fortunate to have found a sport that he loves. “Josh and I were watching a darts tournament on the TV when he was seven and he said he’d like to try it.”

Father and son started playing in the garage and when Joshua’s enthusiasm grew, Nicola went online and discovered that Mount Druitt has a darts club. Rod signed the then nine-year-old Josh up and soon after he joined as well, playing in the Seniors' competition.

“Darts is something Josh has done fairly naturally,” Rod says. “He also loves the social side, getting to know the kids.”

Rod has been impressed with how Joshua has adjusted to the new darts division he’s competing in. “He’s playing against 17 year olds and it didn’t take him long to realise that he needs to pay his dues. But he always does his best and that’s normally pretty good so I’m really proud of him.”

Learnt skills at sports camps

Over the years Joshua has attended CPA sports camps. “He feels very comfortable at the camps,” Rod says. “Now he’s older he takes a bit of a leadership role, helping the other kids which is good for his development.”

Peter King, Manager Sports Development, is not surprised that Joshua performed so well under pressure and he believes the sports camps helped contributed to his success.

Joshua has attended five CPA sports camps and he also went on the ski camp held in August.

“All the camps are about developing the whole athlete,” Peter says. “The skills learnt by the kids increase their physical coordination, understanding of ‘game sense’, ability to play within a team, and also how to handle high-pressure moments.”

Peter is excited by Joshua’s success. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching Josh grow in all these aspects over the years, lovingly and skilfully guided by his parents.”

The results of the time youngsters spend at the camps or in other sports programs are demonstrated time and again.

“These camps are for any young person with cerebral palsy who demonstrates a passion for sport and the commitment to improve their skills,” Peter says.

The CPA sports programs facilitates a variety of camps, competitions and skill development sessions that will benefit aspiring athletes. Some are provided free of charge and others can be funded under your NDIS plan.

For more information phone Peter King on 0418 467 702 or email Peter here.

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