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Boccia: A uniquely accessible sport

Boccia England
04 May 2022 18:56

What is boccia?

Boccia is the most inclusive sport you’ll find, and it provides fun for all the family!

It can be played by anyone regardless of age, gender, ability, or disability. The game was originally designed for people with cerebral palsy, and for over half of Boccia England's regular players it’s the only sporting option available to them due to the severity of their disability.

Louis Saunders, who recently represented Paralympics GB in Tokyo, said, “I wasn’t strong enough for wheelchair basketball, not fast enough for wheelchair racing, and not agile enough for wheelchair tennis. I love sport, I want to be the best and sadly I didn’t really have that chance, that opportunity, because of the nature of my disability. But that was before boccia, now I’ve been given a chance and I’ve made the most of it.”

Boccia is a target ball sport. From a seated position (and therefore ideal for wheelchair users) players propel balls to land close to a white marker ball – the jack. If you’re unable to grasp and propel a ball a ramp can be used.

It’s an indoor sport, played on a court roughly the same size as a badminton court. You can compete as an individual, in a pair, or as a team of three.

A set of boccia balls consists of one white jack ball, six red balls, and six blue balls. The balls are made of leather filled with tiny plastic pellets and are available in different grades of softness and hardness.

If you don’t have a set of boccia balls and/or you can’t find enough space to play a full game, don’t worry. There are lots of boccia skills challenges you can have a go at from the comfort of your own home and you can start off with general household items – you can even use a rolled-up pair of socks!

If you want to take your involvement further, you’ll find boccia to be a game of skill, precision, and strategy – this was clear to see for anyone who watched David Smith OBE win boccia gold in Tokyo last year!

What is Boccia England?

Boccia England is the charity responsible for the sport in England and they support all levels - from beginners to elite. Boccia England believes that through the power and inspiration of boccia, REAL CHANGE can be achieved for those living with a disability.

It's CEO, Chris Ratcliffe, who has lived experience of disability as a deaf person said: “What’s really unique about boccia is that when disabled people get onto that court and they’re playing their match, they’re completely independent. It’s down to them to make the right call and make the right decisions. It’s so inspiring to see so many people feeling completely liberated through playing boccia.”

Their work includes developing and supporting around 60 boccia clubs across England; working with partners to reach disabled people and older people; engaging children through working with schools; organising competitions in a variety of formats to suit everyone; and identifying and developing talented athletes through the England Talent Pathway.

What do boccia players say?

Azhad, a 20-year-old boccia player from Durham with cerebral palsy said, “Boccia will always be my passion and it has opened a path that I can confidently pursue in the future. It has changed my life and it’s given me opportunities to achieve my personal goals. Boccia gave me a dream to work hard for.”

Sophie, a 23-year-old player and volunteer from Merseyside who has a learning disability said, “Boccia showed me what inclusion is and helped me to help others become part of their own boccia clubs. Since I have started playing boccia, I have made new friends and become more part of society in my own way. It also takes my mind off the thought of having a disability because I am with others who face the same barrier.”

Changing lives through boccia


How can I get involved?

If you would like to play boccia then the best way is to join your local club! There’s a network of boccia clubs across England, and most clubs are open to all ages and abilities.

If you’d like to have a go at boccia at home, you can download resources or watch challenge videos on their YouTube channel.

Boccia England runs competitions across the country, and the Heathcoat Cup which will begin again in autumn 2022 is open to anyone including beginners.

If you are in England, you can join Boccia England as a member. This gives you access to a range of member-only discounts and benefits as well as regular updates and access to their competitions.

Schools can get involved by running boccia activities in PE or even setting up their own clubs.

If you are in other parts of UK, you can have a look at the links:

How can I support boccia?

Hundreds of volunteers are needed to run clubs, coach players, referee at our competitions, and much more. If you’re interested in volunteering, please get in touch. Around 34% of the volunteers are disabled.

 As a charity, Boccia England relies on the generosity of individuals and organisations to change lives through boccia! If you’d like to be part of this, there are various ways you can support their work:

  • Make a donation
  • Take part in the a fundraising challenge such as the Superhero Series
  • Host a Tea Break – invite friends and family to brew-up and bake for Boccia England
  • Adopt Boccia England as your school or workplace charity of the year 

To Learn More

Visit the Boccia England website

Follow them @BocciaEngland on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on LinkedIn, and YouTube.

For more information, email or call  0115 967 8455.