In one month’s time, 190 players from 32 countries will be in Liverpool, Great Britain, for the Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed) 2018 World Boccia Championships.
There are endless reasons why these world-class athletes play the sport. But let us give you 10 before the actions begins 12 August:
1. Play it anywhere
Find a flat surface, and you are good to go! It can be anywhere – indoors, outdoors, school yard, leisure centre, living room. Bring masking tape to mark your court. It might not be up to Paralympic standards, but the important thing is to play and enjoy.
2. Play with anyone
All sorts of ages and impairments can play. It is one of the few sports where men play against women at the top level, and also perfect for people with high support needs, where they can play with a ramp, a ramp assistant and a very nifty head pointer.
3. Boccia is good for you
Take it from Great Britain’s Jamie McCowan, the world No. 2 BC3 player: “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. Easy to pick up
Boccia is straightforward, which is big help for beginners when they start. 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. But harder than it looks
Boccia is a game of 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,” said Great Britain’s defending BC4 world champion Stephen McGuire.
6. It is pretty popular
Boccia is one of the fastest growing Paralympic sports, with clubs and leagues cropping up around the world, and the competition level increasing.
7. Play for fun
You can play individually, but you can also play in teams and pairs too. So grab some friends, your family members and tell them to invite their friends. It is a great way to meet new people and socialise.
8. Play at a high level
If you want to play beyond recreation, and get serious, you can! Boccia made its first appearance at the Paralympic Games in New York, USA, 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 competitions across the globe.
9. It is mixed gender
Men, women, boys and girls all compete on equal terms. It is one of the very few Olympic and Paralympic sports to do so.
10. Because Liverpool is hosting!
The best players from around the world will battle from 12-18 August, and the Championships will leave a legacy locally as a GBP 32,000 masterplan has been implemented to improve the lives of local people with an impairment.
Be part of the legacy and watch players go for world titles. There will also be come and try sessions too which promise to be relaxed and lots of fun. So come and give it a go! Tickets are available online.