Liverpool 2018 raises bar for boccia

The international boccia federation has hailed the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships (12-18 August) as a key turning point in the development of the sport worldwide.

Ahead of this evening’s Closing Ceremony, BISFed President David Hadfield explained how the Championships in Liverpool – which saw more than 180 athletes compete from 33 nations - have raised the bar:

 “The Organising Committee have been so committed to making this not only a fantastic experience for our athletes but also a must-see spectator event. And they have certainly delivered. We have enjoyed seven days of world class action.

“Boccia is a sport which has perhaps flown under the radar compared to others but I am confident that Liverpool has generated real momentum. Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 and learning from the way in which Liverpool has taken the Championships forward, BISFed’s ambition is to raise the bar even further.”

It is the UK’s first ticketed event for the sport outside of the Paralympic Games. Boccia UK Chair John Dowson has taken a lead role in not only the bidding for the World Championships two years ago but also the delivery:

“The athletes have been blown away by the World Championships – and they love the innovative layout of the field of play. For the first time in a boccia event, spectators have been able to get up close to all the action with courtside seating on the eleven outside courts. A central show court with aerial cameras has really added to the drama of the event.

“We wanted to build spectator excitement and atmosphere and we have certainly achieved that. Coupled with the fact that people have been able to watch all the action from around the world via BBC live streaming, the sport has been lifted to a whole new level.”

David Smith MBE thrilled a home crowd, winning the World individual BC1 title:

“Winning here means everything. The crowd have been awesome. I've really enjoyed it - the layout is spectacular. This is how Boccia be should be done and I hope the rest of the world take note. The venue’s great. The hotel’s great and the courts are cool as well.

Evie Edwards, who reached the quarter finals with the BC4 team, said:

“The show court really stands out for me. It’s been totally different to any other comp we’ve ever been it. These Championships have put the sport on more of a stage and the BBC coverage has really lifted the sport. Not many people know about boccia so hopefully more people will get involved after seeing it.”

Boccia is the world’s fastest growing Paralympic sport and organisers have also been keen to leave a legacy on the city of Liverpool. Come and try sessions have taken place every day of the Championships as part of a much wider £32,000 Boccia England legacy programme, funded by Sport England, which will see the establishment of a brand new club in the city.

Japanese broadcaster NHK also secured rights to televise the event and will be airing a documentary later in the year; building towards its coverage of the 2020 Paralympic Games.

The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

The Championships are drawing to a close with a Closing Ceremony which will feature choir, Only Boys Aloud, who finished third in Britain’s Got Talent in May 2012.

Duncan Tunbridge