Jerome and Stefan Nicolas, a father-son tandem from Royal Palm Beach, will be representing the U.S. national team at the upcoming World Pétanque Championships this September, which will be held in the Republic of Benin in West Africa. This year’s championships will attract 64 pétanque teams from around the world.
Jerome is 56, while Stefan, a 2015 graduate of Royal Palm Beach High School, is 26. In high school, Stefan was a varsity athlete in swimming, soccer, volleyball and tennis.
Jerome has been playing the sport of pétanque for decades, while Stefan doesn’t remember not playing the sport.
“I have been playing pétanque since I was a young boy, and Stefan has been playing all his life, and playing in competitions for the past 10 years,” Jerome said. “You only need dirt to play pétanque.”
Pétanque is an outdoor sport that originated in France, where metal balls (called boules) are thrown with high precision to be the closest to the target, called a jack. It is a team sport that requires concentration, technical ability, strategy and physical resistance. Each team plays with six boules. Points are scored after each frame. The first team to earn 13 points is the winner.
Stefan, who represented the U.S. at the 2022 Pan American Games in Mexico, was on the American squad where the U.S. won the gold medal. Stefan’s gold medal was the first-ever gold for the U.S. in an international pétanque competition.
Besides Jerome and Stefan Nicolas, the other two Americans who are members of the U.S. team that will compete in Africa are from New York. They are Joseph Hassoune and Houari Baba.
This will be the second pétanque world championship appearance for Jerome, who represented the U.S. in 2013 in France. Clearly, this year’s trip to the world championships has a different meaning for Jerome.
“As a father, it is a dream come true to be competing at the highest level of our sport with my son, and sharing the same passion,” Jerome said.
At the local level, Jerome and Stefan Nicolas play and practice at the South Florida Pétanque Club, which is located at John Prince Park in Lake Worth. Learn more about the sport locally at www.southfloridapetanqueclub.com.
As they prepare for their trip, Stefan Nicolas has organized a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the team’s travel expenses. Visit www.gofundme.com/f/gx3cvn-world-championship to show your support.