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Bowled Over By Boccia

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Tension, excitement, tactics and skill all came into play on Wednesday 14th March as Dunsfold Park hosted the Boccia 2012 Project, an introduction to the competitive Paralympic sport of Boccia.

A seated game, similar to bowls but using soft weighted leather balls, Boccia can be enjoyed by persons of all ages and with a wide variety of disabilities. The Boccia 2012 Project is a joint initiative between Reigate & Redhill YMCA and Surrey County Council Adult Services and aims to raise awareness of this fantastic Paralympic sport and establish new clubs in every Borough.

Rita Wright, the YMCA's Physical Activity Special Projects Manager, comments; "Boccia has been in the Paralympics since the mid 80's but not many people have heard of it. The aim of the Boccia 2012 Project is to raise awareness of the sport, but to also give adults with physical or learning disabilities an opportunity to volunteer in the Boccia Clubs, that we hope to create in each Borough by the end of the project."

Jim McAllister, owner of Dunsfold Park, along with members of the Dunsfold Park team, tenants from the site and staff and students from Jigsaw School all took part in the free workshop to learn more about this unusual sport where athletes throw, roll or kick balls aiming to land close to a target.

Jim McAllister commented; "It was great to see all ages and abilities engaging in the Boccia workshop today. The sport is both exciting and challenging and encourages fundamental sporting principles such as tactics and team camaraderie. I would encourage everyone with an interest in sport in this Olympic and Paralympic year, to take part in this fantastic project, along with others taking place in the local community, to help create a sporting legacy in the local area."

Emma Hawkins, Director of Education at Jigsaw School which specialises in educating children with an autism spectrum disorder, comments; "Children with autism may sometimes display difficulties with their motor skills and one aspect of today that has been particularly gratifying is to see our children using those skills repeatedly and being encouraged by their results to try again. The weighted balls eliminated the puzzling and unpredictable bounce you get from normal balls which our children can find confusing when trying to understand and focus on aim, so it was a very valuable experience for them."  

To find out more about the Boccia 2012 Project visit www.ymcaredhill.com or watch the Paralympic Games this summer as the Great Britain Boccia team aim to maintain their gold medal status as they compete against other countries at the ExCel Centre in London at the beginning of September.