Having a ball with "unknown" Paralympic sport

Published 6:00am 26 March 2024

Having a ball with "unknown" Paralympic sport
Words by Nick Crockford

Once a week the “most unknown, yet most accessible” Paralympic sport takes over a hall in Morayfield, running the biggest program in Greater Brisbane.

Members of Moreton Bay Boccia Program - for those with physical and intellectual disabilities - train for two hours at Morayfield Sports and Events Centre.

Boccia (pronounced botch-ya) is played seated with the aim to get balls to land as close as possible to a white marker ball, known as the jack. 

The club has 17 members from across this region and Brisbane, including Ryan Finn, ranked one in Australia BC4 and a Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Australia Day Award winner.

Also, Sam Thorne, currently ranked five in Australia BC3 and a member of last year’s State team with Ryan, Eamonn Rowling, Scott Strenton, Glenda Anderson and Anthony Anderson.

They are following Nathan Langdown and Bruce Walker who were also members of Moreton Bay and made the 2023 Queensland team.

Having a ball with "unknown" Paralympic sport
Emily Finn, coach at the Moreton Bay Boccia Program

Coach Emily Finn says boccia – similar to bocce and related to bowls, snooker and pétanque – enables players to compete on an “even playing field and build community, connection and purpose”.

“We are really trying to get out in the community to show off the most unknown, most accessible Paralympic sport,” said Emily, who is a finalist in the Awards Australia Foundation Diversity and Inclusion Awards, part of the 7News Young Achievers Award.

“Boccia is known as the most unknown inclusive sport in the world. Any age and ability can play at any level - social, competitive, inter-state, nationally and some internationally.

“Players can learn how the balls move through the hand for throwers - or ramp, for ramp players – and a healthy sense of competitiveness can help.

“Players also can find a sense of community and family within the Moreton Bay Boccia Club this is what makes this the most unique space.”

More pictures - click through

Moreton Bay is the longest-standing boccia program on the northside of Brisbane having been formed in 2001 and the biggest in Brisbane.

Training sessions are held weekly, on Saturdays, during school terms with drills to improve accuracy, shot selection and decision making.

There are also group and singles games with players in classes based on ability.

Boccia first became a Paralympic sport in 1984 and will be one of 22 sports at the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games (August 28-September 8).

It is also one of only two Paralympic sports which does not have an Olympic counterpart.

For more on the Moreton Bay Boccia Program email [email protected] or the program’s Facebook page, click here

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