10 reasons to love boccia

More and more people are cottoning on to the beauty of the game of boccia and starting to play. With clubs up and down the country, it’s not difficult to get started.

Here are 10 reasons why you should love boccia!

1.       It can be played pretty much anywhere

As long as you have a flat space, it can be pretty much played anywhere – indoors, outdoors, school yard, leisure centre, living room – you get the gist! Bring some masking tape and mark out your court – et voila! You have a court. Ok, so it might not be up to Paralympic standards but it really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to play and enjoy!

2.       Anyone can play

You can be young or old, disabled or non-disabled to play boccia. It is also one of the few sports where men play against women at the very top level. For people with more severe disabilities, you can play boccia with a ramp, a ramp assistant and a very nifty head pointer.

3.       Because it’s good for you

Just take it from us. Jamie McCowan is in the British squad and set to play at the World Championships in August: “There are many benefits of playing boccia. It is the most inclusive sport in the Paralympics as even severe conditions like mine - Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy - are well represented in the sport. For me personally, boccia has many health benefits because the work I put into playing it have fought against the deteriorating nature of my disability which means I have kept very fit.”

4.       Because it’s easy for beginners

It is a straightforward sport which is big help for beginners when they get started. One side has six red balls. The other has six blue balls. The aim of the game is to get your balls closer to the white jack ball than your opponent.

5.       Because it’s harder than it looks

Don’t be fooled. It is harder than it looks. It’s a game of huge precision and control. As skills improve, the tactics of the sport offer both tension and excitement. The balls are of different weights and designs to do different jobs – one might roll carefully, another might destroy the current court set-up.

“Every match is different, every ball thrown can change a match,” says Stephen McGuire. And he should know. He is the World No.1 BC4 player and defending World Champion

6.       Because it’s the fastest growing Paralympic sport

And that means the sport is getting bigger and better with clubs and leagues cropping up all over the place. It’s a great way to meet friends and be social. Just get in touch with Boccia England, Disability Sport NI, Disability Sport Wales or Scottish Disability Sport who can tell you where your nearest boccia club is.

7.       You can play with your friends

You can play individually but you can play in teams and pairs too – so, if team sports are more your thing, give it a go!

8.       Because if you’re really good at it, you can play at the highest levels

Boccia made its first appearance at the Paralympic Games in New York in 1984 and it is now a firm fixture! There are also World Championships every two years as well as a whole host of other BISFed (that’s the international federation!) competitions right across the globe. So just think, you could be competing for World titles and medals one day!

9.       Because women compete against men on equal terms

Yes, it’s a mixed gender sport where men, women, boys, girls all compete on equal terms. Hurrah! It is one of very few Olympic and Paralympic sports to do so.

10.   Because it’s coming to Liverpool this summer

It’s the biggest date in the calendar for the world’s best boccia players and it is in Liverpool! The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships will descend on Exhibition Centre Liverpool from 12-18 August, attracting 190 players from 32 countries.

You can watch players battle it out for world titles but there will also be come and try sessions too which promise to be really relaxed and lots of fun – so why not come and give it a go? Tickets are available to buy here.

 

Duncan Tunbridge