Boccia has been a Paralympic sport since 1984 and is specifically designed for athletes with a disability affecting loco-motor function such as cerebral palsy.
However at a recreational level Boccia is played by people with a range of disabilities in special schools, adult centres and community settings throughout Northern Ireland.
Boccia is played on an area similar to the size of a badminton court with players aiming to propel a set of coloured balls and position them closer to a white jack ball than those of their opponent, on a similar basis to bowls.
When playing Boccia all players compete from a seated position and can throw, roll or kick the balls into the playing area. For players who are unable to throw or kick the ball an assistive device can be used such as a ramp or chute. Balls can be released down the ramp or chute by hand or by using a head pointer, making the sport particularly inclusive of players with high levels of disability.
Boccia leagues are run throughout Northern Ireland all of which are open to anyone with a disability. There are a number of clubs in Northern Ireland aimed specifically at players who meet the Paralympic classification.
An Ulster Boccia Squad for people with Physical Disabilities who meet Paralympic classification standards has been launched in April 2013 and this squad train monthly in the Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey. This squad have now formed links with the talent programmes developed by both Paralympics Ireland and GB Boccia.
An Ulster Boccia League runs annually from October until March on a monthly basis in various locations throughout Northern Ireland. This league is open to players with a Physical Disability who could possibly meet the classification criteria for international competition.
Further details on Boccia club and Performance Pathways in Northern Ireland can be obtained from:
Odhran Doherty, Disability Sport NI, Email: email@example.com
Textphone: 028 9046 3494