Boccia is a little like the game of Lawn Bowls, but the balls are round without any in-built bias. It can be played on a competitive, educational or recreational level. Through the years it has been revamped so that it can be played by anyone that possesses a physical disability. It is a game of concentration that you can play while you are sitting down. This is why it is so popular for anyone with a severe disability. It can be played indoors (usually with soft or leather balls), outdoors with wooden, hard resin, or metal balls, in water with plastic floating balls, and there are even illuminated sets for night-time play. The game has some very close cousins - Bocce, Boules, and Petanque.
How to Play Boccia
The object of the game is for you to get one or more of your balls closer to the target than any of your opponent's. You will score one point for each of your balls inside your opponents nearest ball. You can play this game against another individual, or with one or two partners against another team. Each side has 6 balls, with a different colour for each team, and is required to get those balls as close to the target as possible.
To start the game, the small target ball is thrown onto the court. Then you throw your coloured balls at the target. Once all of the balls have been thrown by both sides, they are counted in terms of distance from the target. Usually the referee uses a measuring device to determine the distances. If your team has the ball(s) that are the closest, you get points for each ball inside your opponent's ball that is nearest to the jack.
You don't need a lot of heavy equipment to play this game. You need 2 sets of 6 balls, each set a different colour, and or course one target ball - known as the jack or pallino or boccino. The court must be on a hard surface and is usually inside. On outside courts you would use hard balls (ie, wooden or metal or hard resin). There are strict rules governing the court size, surface, ball and jack size, and colour when playing in competitions. For recreational indoor, backyard or beach play, things are much more relaxed and the balls can be any colour and any material, and the playing field any size or shape.
Because of the nature of the game, it has different classifications of play. These classifications are based upon impairment levels. "BC" is the abbreviation for Boccia classification. The classifications go from levels 1-8. BC1 is the most severe of the levels. Because of the different abilities of the players, some are allowed to use assistants, ramps and chutes during play. These tools can help you to put the ball into play if you can't do it yourself. This is another reason that the sport is so popular for anyone that has a disability.
Competition is divided up into 4 year cycles with different events being played on a yearly basis. It is becoming a widely played game throughout the world. Padraic Moran is the 2010 World Champion because he won the BC1 gold medal in Portugal. His country is a well known participant in the sport. The Cerebral Palsy Sport Ireland was created in 1978 and continues to grow.
As a matter of fact, other leagues are developing within Ireland. The Cerebral Palsy Sport Ireland National Intercounty Boccia league was just started 2 years ago. It began with 8 teams and has grown to over 25 teams. This is a great sign of continued growth. Although the league is filled and isn't currently accepting applications, you can find plenty of information on its website.
However, because of its popularity, you can play it if you have or don't have a disability. In fact it is known to be played by both genders, the young and the old and by people with all types of disabilities and abilities. So, if you think you have the muscle control, the concentration, and know your 'Jack' from your 'Pallino', see you on the Boccia court.
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