AS I write this article, Great Britain has just won a bronze medal in the Boccia mixed team BC1-2 at the Paralympics in a nail biting match with Portugal.
It was a repeat of the final in Beijing: this time Britain had missed out on gold after losing to Thailand 18-1 in the semi-final. In the Independent on Sunday for September 2, Emily Dugan’s article on the sport was sub-titled ‘a cross between boules and snooker, Boccia isn’t for the faint-hearted’.
This is a game that can be played one against one, in pairs or in teams. Opponents or opposing sides have sets of six balls, either red or blue. A white ball (the Jack) is thrown or kicked into play. The aim is to get the coloured balls as near as possible to the Jack, hopefully dislodging your opponents’ balls in the process. Needless to say in a social setting this generates a lot of fun and there is the added advantage that activity can take place indoors or outdoors. In the Paralympics Boccia is played by people with disabilities that impair their motor skills such as cerebral palsy but it can be a great integrator of able-bodied and disabled people.
Back in January 1995 Boccia was officially launched in Banbury at the old Spiceball Park Sports Centre by Caroline Winn. She had been introduced to the sport by a Rotaract friend called Theo Theodoris, who had successfully developed Boccia in Buckinghamshire. Theo persuaded Caroline to attend the preliminary Boccia Teachers’ Award Course at Bletchley Leisure Centre in November 1994. This enabled her to teach the sport to people of all ability levels