The Royal Engineers Museum isn’t the only place worth visiting in Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham. Just opposite the award winning attraction you’ll find the Prince Arthur Road Indoor Bowls Club, where a regular Saturday morning Boccia Club is held and looks set to flourish in 2013.
For disabled and able bodied people alike, Boccia is a low cost activity that everyone from age 7 upwards can take part in – so there’s no excuse not to work off that turkey and chocolate, together!
Just before Christmas, the club held its very first tournament – a challenge extended by the Boccia Club to the regular indoor bowlers. With seven Boccia Club teams and five Prince Arthur Bowls teams, it was a well supported event. Unsurprisingly, it was an easy victory for the Boccia Club, who posted a huge winning margin. I went along with local film maker, Mdhamiri Nkemi, to find out more about it from organiser Malcolm Clark.
Lynette Stock, who, along with Malcolm, began the Boccia club told us: “We started off with just a poster on the wall, asking if anyone was interested to put their name down. We had a man who came in and started us off with skittles, balls and hula hoops before being shown the proper game. Just one person came at first but gradually it took off, especially after we’d taken part in an exhibition day at Medway Park.
It’s a perfect sport for severely disabled people, a good way for them to meet others and is very inclusive. I often stop wheelchair users in the supermarket and ask if they’ve heard of it – being involved is very rewarding.
This is the first tournament we’ve held, so we’re extremely pleased with the turnout.”
Vicky Armstrong brings her son Clifford, a Spina Bifida sufferer, along to Boccia. She says: “It’s a good opportunity for him to mix with and make friends with other people; he and another member, Amy, have become firm friends since meeting at the club.”
Severely disabled Charles is helped by Emily, who positions the specially designed hand pointer ramp for him, with Charles directing her with his eyes – ‘eye pointing’, as Emily puts it. Using his communications book, he told us “Boccia is good!” From the joy on his face with every good shot, it’s clear he enjoys it very much.
The tournament results:
1st: Reeves Clan 41 points/14 ends
2nd: Jibbering Jellyfish 30 points/11 ends
3rd: The Twits 27 points/13 ends
4th: Twinkletoes 27 points/12 ends
5th: Simply the Best 22/16
6th: The Pros 17/8
7th: Christmas Crackers 15/12
8th: Lewingtons 14/7
9th: Bayfords 8/4
10th: The Leonards 3/2
11th: The Stiffs -2/7
12th: The Plebs -9/2
Boccia became a Paralympic sport in 1984 and is one of only a few sports to have no equivalent in the Olympic Games. This year, we had nine players in the London Olympics and won two medals: Silver for David Smith in the BC1 Individual, and the BC1/BC2 team (David Smith, Nigel Murray, Dan Bentley and Zoe Robinson) winning Bronze.
How to play Boccia:
- Each game uses six balls: six for one player in an individual game; three each in a pairs team or two each in a triple team.
- The balls used are either Red or Blue.
- Red team go first; colour is decided by coin toss. Red can place the jack to their advantage, beginning from Throwing Box one. The teams alternate, with Blue in Throwing Box Two and so on.
- Red throw the jack beyond the ‘v’ and the team skipper chooses which of his/her players have the best chance of getting closest.
- The other (Blue) team have their chance to throw, and will continue to do so until they are either nearest the jack or have run out of balls. Then the Red team take over again.
- Once all the balls have been thrown, the number of balls of the same colour nearest the jack wins that end and is recorded for the overall score. I.e. If a blue ball is nearest the jack but the next nearest balls are red, that would be one point to blue.
- Possession of the jack moves to the right, so throwing box two position will begin next.
- The winner is the one with the highest score after all the ends.
- In the event of a tie, a play-off round will follow until a winner is determined.
Prince Arthur Road Indoor Bowls Club welcome new members, both as players or socially – give them a call and take the family along.