With the Winter Paralympics fast approaching, let’s have a look at Boccia. Boccia is an interesting sport, closely related to bowls, Bocce or Petanque (also known as Boules) but there is one striking difference for Boccia. It is designed for people with severe disabilities.
The origin of the name ‘Boccia’ is derived from the Latin word for Boss. The game itself was originally designed for players with Cerebral Palsy but has expanded to include contestants with a great variety of different conditions that affect the motor functions of the body and it’s gained popularity since it’s first televised appearance in the 1984 Paralympics. It is now played at Local, National and International levels, and there are, as of 2020, 75 national Boccia organisations have now joined one or more of the international Boccia organisations.
As previously mentioned, the sport is very similar to Bowls, where the player has to try and get his ball closest to the jack. The game is played either as individual, Pairs or teams of three and there are different classifications for level of disability:
- BC1 – Players can throw the ball with either the hand or foot, and may compete with an assistant Who will help to stabilize or adjust the players chair and give the ball to the player when requested. This assistant will stay outside of the competitor’s playing box,
- BC2 – Players can class throw the ball with the hand. But will not be eligible for assistance.
- BC3 – Players in this class will have very severe locomotor dysfunction in all four extremities and will be able to move their arm but have no sustained grasp or release action, they should have insufficient range of movement to propel a boccia ball onto the court. Players are able to use an assistive device such as a ramp to deliver the ball and can compete using an assistant; assistants must keep their back to the court and their eyes averted from play.
- BC4 – Players in this class have severe locomotor dysfunction of all four extremities as well as poor trunk control. They can demonstrate sufficient dexterity to throw the ball onto the court. Players are not eligible for assistance.
The basic rules of play goes like this. The first player (who wins the toss) will propel the white jack ball on to the playing field and take their first attempt to get close to the jack. The second player will then take their turn. The play continues with the player furthest from the jack trying to get closer or knock their opponents balls further away from the jack. After all balls have been thrown by each player. Points are scored by the amount of balls closest to the jack before the opponents closest ball. Games are played with four ends and six balls per player for individual, Four ends and three balls per player for pairs but six ends and two balls per player for team games.