Boccia tournament brings out the competitive spirit

Date: 10/10/2017

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Glaslyn Leisure Centre in Porthmadog recently hosted the second Boccia Tournament for people living with disabilities and chronic health conditions.

Boccia (pronounced Bot-cha’), which is similar to boules, is played with soft leather balls and was designed originally for wheelchair users. Players can throw, kick or use a ramp to propel a ball onto the court with the aim of getting closest to a ‘jack’ ball. There were 32 teams competing for the Will Pent Memorial Trophy title made up of clients from the DementiaGo and Exercise Referral projects as well as the MS Society, the local Stroke Club and Parkinson’s Support group, Antur Waunfawr and the Abergele Boccia Club for people with learning disabilities. The Pines Nursing Home also entered a team.

The event was organised by Emma Quaeck, Gwynedd Council’s DementiaGo project manager with the aim being of getting people together in a safe and social environment to play a sport that is accessible for everyone.

Emma said: “We had over 100 people taking part, some of whom were complete beginners and had never taken part in any competitions before. There was a fantastic atmosphere from the onset and during the event we saw camaraderie, support, lots of cheering and a great competitive spirit. Everyone was engrossed in the competition and for a couple of hours there was no illness or disability in the Sports Hall.”

Following a competitive first round and semi-finals, the final took place between teams ‘Clare’s Angels’ from the Porthmadog DementiaGo programme and the Terry’s Totties from the Dwyfor Leisure Centres Lifestyle management programme. Clare’s Angels went on to win the game after an exciting final match.

Gerwyn Owen, Disability Sports Wales’s Performance Pathway Manager who refereed the final said: “It was fantastic to see Clare’s Angels win. I had refereed their matches in the first round and had seen one lady really struggling to get the ball near the jack, and then to see her throwing the winning shot in the final and the smile on her face when she won just demonstrates how the power of sport can help transform people’s lives.”

The event was only able to take place thanks to the kind donations of John and Vivien Hughes of the Sunn Inn, Llanengan. John’s mother lived with dementia, and he was so impressed with the work being done by the DementiaGo team throughout the county that he wanted to help. Following on from the success of the event again this year, it is hoped that it will continue to become an annual event and that more people will take up the activity.

Councillor Craig ab Iago, Cabinet Member for Housing, Leisure and Culture, said: “We fully support the work being done in the leisure centre’s to help improve the lives of Gwynedd residence living with health conditions. Often when people get a diagnosis of Dementia for example, they lose confidence, become anxious and give up on doing activities they once enjoyed. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and a poor quality of live. Events such as the Boccia tournament give them something to focus on in a safe and happy environment. We would also like to thank all the volunteer referees who helped out on the day.”

PHOTOGRAPHS: The Boccia tournament in Porthmadog