Boccia England is a registered charity dedicated to improving the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of disabled children, young people and adults through the sport of boccia. We are also the National Governing Body for boccia in England.
Our vision is “Playing Boccia, Changing Lives”. By creating opportunities to play boccia at all levels we provide disabled people with activities that improve their resilience, self-belief, communication skills, physical and social skills and help them feel more integrated into their local communities.
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. For those unable to grasp and propel a ball a ramp can be used. It is open to people with all disabilities and all age groups. It is a Paralympic sport with no Olympic equivalent.
Disabled people are often on the margins of society and find participation in sport very difficult. Not only do they experience overwhelming barriers to physical activity, but they also face issues of extreme social isolation and an increased chance of developing mental health problems. Evidence shows that physical activity can improve mental health, helping people with mild depression and protecting against anxiety. Disabled people account for one in five of Britain's population, but they are currently the least active group in society. According to Sport England figures, 80% of disabled people take little or no exercise, meaning that they are missing out on the positive social, economic and health outcomes of being active.
This is where boccia comes in. Even within the world of disability sport, there is a proportion of people for whom most activities are inaccessible because of the nature and severity of their disability. For over half our regular players, boccia is the only sporting option available. In the last pre-pandemic year, 54,800 people played boccia, and 8,029 played on a regular basis.
Our work includes: developing and supporting boccia clubs across England; working with partners to reach disabled 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.
We are supported by more than 150 volunteers.
We are uniquely placed to make a massive difference to the lives of so many people who otherwise would not have access to the benefits that sport can bring. We can reach sectors of the population that no other sport can, helping to tackle inactivity and helping more people from every background to regularly and meaningfully engage with sport and physical activity.