Scots top the table at the UK Boccia Championships

A gold medal apiece for Scotland’s Scott McCowan (BC3) and Stephen McGuire (BC4) ensured it was their country on top of the medal table when the two-day UK Boccia Championships came to a close in Antrim Northern Ireland on Sunday (16 June).


In the BC3 category, two-time Paralympian McCowan had finished second in his pool which meant that in the semi-final he was pitted against his brother Jamie who had topped his. In a tight match, Scott edged out his younger brother, winning 4-3 and setting up a Scotland v England final against Matt Berry. Berry had recently taken the silver medal at the Boccia England Cup in Sheffield in May and was hoping to take home a different colour this time.  However, even though he forced a tie-break, it was the more experienced Scott McCowan who claimed gold, giving his father Gary, who is his ramp assistant, the perfect Fathers’ Day present. 


It was Scotland v England again in both medal matches in the BC4 category. Scotland’s Stephen McGuire beat England’s Louis Saunders 7-2 in the Gold medal match, maintaining his 100% record in these championships. The battle for bronze also went Scotland’s way with Ross Munro beating Evie Edwards 6-3.


However, the standings were reversed in the BC1 category with reigning World and Paralympic Champion David Smith MBE in commanding form, winning his semi-final 11-0 against fellow English player Dan Bentley, a score which he repeated in the final against Scotland’s Reegan Stevenson. In the all-England bronze medal match, it was Daniel Wain who came out on top, beating Dan Bentley 6-4.


But it was Northern Ireland’s Claire Taggart who got the biggest cheer from the home crowd when she beat England’s James Clowes 4-0 in the Gold medal match. The home crowd were also hoping that their countryman Scott Cromie could also bag a medal in the bronze medal match but it wasn’t to be as England’s Reshad Saraj finished on top 3-2. 


Commenting on the event and the results, Boccia UK Performance Director Helen Nicholls said: ”We have seen some outstanding Boccia played here this weekend and I’ve been really impressed with the performances and the attitude of all the players. Playing against the world ranked players has been a great experience for the pathway players and they have shown that they are pushing hard to improve. With just over a year to go to Tokyo, being tested on home soil is great for the World Class Programme athletes too.

“The Championships were played in a great spirit so a huge thank you to the volunteers and Disability Sport Northern Ireland for all their hard work in making it such a success and enjoyable weekend.”


The championships were hosted by Disability Sport Northern Ireland (DSNI) were sponsored by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and TBC Conversions.

UK Boccia Championships 2019 to get underway in Antrim, Northern Ireland

The UK Boccia Championships will get underway in Antrim, Northern Ireland on Saturday with competitors from the four home nations taking part.

 Across two days of competition, the best 32 players from across the UK will compete for the top spot across the four classifications BC1-BC4. Eight Paralympians will be in action, including Rio Gold medallist and reigning world champion David Smith, and local favourite Claire Taggart.

 The championships are being hosted by Disability Sport Northern Ireland (DSNI) for the first time and are being sponsored by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and TBC Conversions.

 Speaking ahead of the Championships, Boccia UK Performance Director Helen Nicholls said:

“It’s great to take the championships to a different country and venue so a big thank you to DSNI for hosting and giving Northern Ireland the opportunity to experience elite Boccia. The UK Championships see world-ranked players compete against up-and-coming players from across the UK so the games can be unpredictable which adds to the excitement. I’d like to wish all the competitors the best of luck and to remind some of the newcomers that everyone starts on an even playing field, so my advice is to be fearless and remember, every ball matters.”


The full list of competitors is below with Paralympians in bold

David Smith England BC1

Daniel Wain England BC1

Tia Ruel England BC1

Caroline Robinson England BC1

Dan Bentley England BC1

Will Hipwell England BC2

James Clowes England BC2

Reshad Saraj England BC2

Will Arnott England BC3

Beth Moulam England BC3

Jess Hunter England BC3

Matt Berry England BC3

Lee Maddison England BC3

Louis Saunders England BC4

Evie Edwards England BC4

Will Graham NI BC1

Claire Taggart NI BC2

Scott Cromie NI BC2

Robyn McBride NI BC3

Jayne Milligan NI BC4

Reegan Stevenson Scotland BC1

Lewis McConnel Scotland BC2

Jamie McCowan Scotland BC3

Scott McCowan Scotland BC3

Stephen McGuire Scotland BC4

Kieran Steer Scotland BC4

Ross Munro Scotland BC4

Ricky Stevenson Wales BC1

Sian Jones Wales BC2

Gareth Stafford Wales BC3


Spectators are welcome to go along to Antrim Forum on 15th and 16th June between 10am - 4pm to see Boccia at its best. Anyone unable to attend in person can watch a livestream. Details of how to do this will be on the Disability Sport NI Facebook page from 9am on 15 June

Boccia UK announce new Chair to lead organisation through to Tokyo 2020 and beyond

David Richmond CBE was today announced as the new Chair of Boccia UK, taking over from John Dowson who was in post for six years.

Boccia UK is the National Governing Body for the Paralympic sport of Boccia in the UK. Their primary role is running the World Class Programme and, using funding from UK Sport, they send players to sanctioned international competitions to qualify athletes to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Paralympic Games.

David has a background in the military and charity sector and most recently as an independent consultant. He served as an Army officer for 26 years and was seriously wounded in 2008 whilst on operations in Afghanistan. After being medically discharged in 2012, he joined Help for Heroes as their first Director of Recovery and was responsible for developing the vision for their Recovery Services and turning it into an operational reality. He was also Team Director of the UK Invictus Games Team for the first three Invictus Games.

Outgoing Chair, John Dowson commented: “It has been a privilege to have worked with everyone at Boccia UK over the last six years where there have been so many highs and very few lows. This is a sport which has the power to inspire and engage people widely. More can and will be done over the next few years to develop the sport and its profile further and I’m delighted that someone of David’s calibre and experience has been recruited. Alongside his fellow Directors, I am leaving the board in very good hands.”

David Richmond said: “My personal experience has shown me the power of sport to transform lives and I know that this is also true for the athletes who play the unique Paralympic sport of Boccia. I’m excited to be appointed Chair of Boccia UK and look forward to working with colleagues across the home nations to drive the sport forward in the UK and to continue to challenge for medals at the Paralympic Games.”

In addition to the Chair, the Boccia UK Board is made up of representatives of organisations responsible for Boccia in the four home nations and two Independent Directors. The full list is

·       David Richmond CBE (Chair) - Independent

·       Abby Laybourne - Independent (Senior Independent Director and Finance Committee Chair)

·       Jane Jones - Independent

·       Chris Ratcliffe - Boccia England

·       Gavin Macleod – Scottish Disability Sport (Performance Development Committee Chair)

·       Fiona Reid – Disability Sport Wales (Equity & Safeguarding Lead)

Kevin O'Neill – Disability Sport Northern Ireland

Boccia UK appoint new Board member

Boccia UK are delighted to announce that Jane Jones has been appointed as a new independent Board Member.

Jane has a wealth of experience in Advertising, Communications and Marketing.  As Director of Communications and Marketing for the British Paralympic Association (BPA) she led the commercial and communications strategy for the British Paralympic Team at London 2012.  She currently works freelance advising sports organisations on marketing and commercial strategies.

She is also a member of the IOC communications Commission, a trustee of the British Para-Orchestra and sits on the Franchise Board for a Super league Netball Team.

Jane will officially take up her appointment in March 2019. Welcome to the world of Boccia Jane!

The search is on for a new Chair to take Boccia forwards to Tokyo and beyond.

The search for a new Chair to take Boccia forwards into Tokyo has begun. This highly successful Paralympic sport is looking for a dynamic, enthusiastic and inspiring individual who would like to join a team that is committed to winning, in the right way and for the right reasons. If you think you can support and guide us on our journey to Tokyo please click here for further info.

Closing date: Friday 25th January 2019

Interviews in London: Friday 8th February 2019

To apply for the position please email a CV and covering letter detailing your suitability for the position to by Friday 25th January 2019.

Smith takes Gold as Liverpool 2018 raises the bar for Boccia

The international boccia federation has hailed the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships (12-18 August) as a key turning point in the development of the sport worldwide.

Ahead of this evening’s Closing Ceremony, BISFed President David Hadfield explained how the Championships in Liverpool – which saw more than 180 athletes compete from 33 nations - have raised the bar:

“The Organising Committee have been so committed to making this not only a fantastic experience for our athletes but also a must-see spectator event. And they have certainly delivered. We have enjoyed seven days of world class action.

“Boccia is a sport which has perhaps flown under the radar compared to others but I am confident that Liverpool has generated real momentum. Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 and learning from the way in which Liverpool has taken the Championships forward, BISFed’s ambition is to raise the bar even further.”

It is the UK’s first ticketed event for the sport outside of the Paralympic Games. Boccia UK Chair John Dowson has taken a lead role in not only the bidding for the World Championships two years ago but also the delivery:

“The athletes have been blown away by the World Championships – and they love the innovative layout of the field of play. For the first time in a boccia event, spectators have been able to get up close to all the action with courtside seating on the eleven outside courts. A central show court with aerial cameras has really added to the drama of the event.

“We wanted to build spectator excitement and atmosphere and we have certainly achieved that. Coupled with the fact that people have been able to watch all the action from around the world via BBC live streaming, the sport has been lifted to a whole new level.”

David Smith MBE thrilled a home crowd, winning the World individual BC1 title:

“Winning here means everything. The crowd have been awesome. I've really enjoyed it - the layout is spectacular. This is how Boccia be should be done and I hope the rest of the world take note. The venue’s great. The hotel’s great and the courts are cool as well.

Evie Edwards, who reached the quarter finals with the BC4 team, said:

“The show court really stands out for me. It’s been totally different to any other comp we’ve ever been it. These Championships have put the sport on more of a stage and the BBC coverage has really lifted the sport. Not many people know about boccia so hopefully more people will get involved after seeing it.”

Boccia is the world’s fastest growing Paralympic sport and organisers have also been keen to leave a legacy on the city of Liverpool. Come and try sessions have taken place every day of the Championships as part of a much wider £32,000 Boccia England legacy programme, funded by Sport England, which will see the establishment of a brand new club in the city.

Japanese broadcaster NHK also secured rights to televise the event and will be airing a documentary later in the year; building towards its coverage of the 2020 Paralympic Games.

The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

The Championships are drawing to a close with a Closing Ceremony which will feature choir, Only Boys Aloud, who finished third in Britain’s Got Talent in May 2012.

GB bring home four medals from World Open Povoa

David Smith MBE was once again the star as GB amassed a haul of four medals from the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Open Povoa, Portugal.

Smith romped through the Individual BC1 competition, winning seven matches on the trot to cement his status as World Number 1 heading into the World Championships in Liverpool in August.

GB won two medals in the Individual BC3 competition. The final pitted World Number 2 Jamie McCowan against Greg Polychronidis of Greece but, having won his previous five matches, succumbed 0-5, finishing with the silver medal. Polychronidis also accounted for Patrick Wilson in the semi-final but he bounced back to take the bronze medal from another Greek, Anna Ntenta.

In the Individual BC4 World Number 1 Stephen McGuire rallied after a surprise loss in his first match to make it to the semi-finals, where he was beaten by old rival Samuel Andrecijk of Slovakia. He was unable to claim the bronze losing a tight match 3-4 to Pornchok Larpyen of Thailand.

McGuire did leave Portugal with a medal though as he teamed up with Evie Edwards and Louis Saunders to clinch BC4 Pairs bronze. The Slovakians again accounted for GB at the semi final stage but Canada were vanquished in the playoff to bring GB's medal tally to four.

Neither the BC3 Pair nor BC1/BC2 Team were able to advance through the pool stages.

With only a month until the officials arrivals day at the World Championships the GB athletes will be fine tuning their preparation for the biggest event since the 2016 Paralympic Games

Full results are available from the BISFed website:

2018 UK Champions Crowned at Inverclyde

The best of British Boccia descended on a sunny Largs in Scotland for the 2018 United Kingdom Boccia Championships and World Rankings held true as each class was won by the highest ranked player.

David Smith MBE continued his incredible run of British Championships as he captured the title for the 15th time. Claire Taggart won her maiden UK crown in the BC2 class while Jamie McCowan became the first player to be a UK Champ in two different classifications as he took top spot in BC3 having previously taken the BC4 Gold. Stephen McGuire continued his run of winning every competition he has entered in 2018, dominating the BC4 classification.

BC1 Medalists

Gold: David Smith MBE (Eng)
Silver: Reegan Stevenson (Sco)
Bronze: Caroline Robinson (Eng)


BC2 Medalists

Gold: Claire Taggart (NI)
Silver: Reshad Saraj (Eng)
Bronze: Will Hipwell (Eng)


BC3 Medalists

Gold: Jamie McCowan (Sco)
Silver: Will Arnott (Eng)
Bronze: Scott McCowan (Sco)


BC4 Medalists

Gold: Stephen McGuire (Sco)
Silver: Evie Edwards (Eng)
Bronze: Peter McGuire (Sco)


Results from Day 1 of 2018 UK Champs

After the first day of the 2018 UK Boccia Championships the semi finalists in BC1, BC2 and BC4 are known whilst there are two shoot outs for knock out spots in BC3 first thing on Sunday.

Reigning champions David Smith (BC1), Tim Hayes (BC2) and Stephen McGuire (BC4) all navigated safe passage to the semis. GB squad members Claire Taggart, Will Hipwell and Evie Edwards will also be playing for places in Sunday's finals.

Having both lost to England's Will Arnott, Scott McCowan and Patrick Wilson will go head to head for a semi final position against World Number 2 Jamie McCowan.

BC1 Pools Results

BC1 Pools Results

BC2 Results

BC2 Results

BC3 Results with the final pool games to be played on Sunday

BC3 Results with the final pool games to be played on Sunday

BC4 Results

BC4 Results



GB Squad selected for World Championships

Stephen McGuire and David Smith MBE have both been named in Great Britain's 10-strong squad for the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships that take place at Exhibition Centre Liverpool from 12-18 August.

Fresh from winning two gold medals at the Montreal Boccia World Open, Scotland’s McGuire is BC4 world number one and will be aiming to defend his individual. He has also revealed that he believes Great Britain can “top the medal table” at the World Championships in Liverpool in August:

“It will be incredibly tough, we will need to keep our discipline and focus but we have the athletes to do it. Britain has the strongest unity I have witnessed over my ten years and counting of being involved in the squad. We push each other across every classification on a daily basis and I believe this has led to our success over the past few seasons.”

Smith, who lives in Swansea, can boast four Paralympics medals including individual gold from Rio in 2016. He added European Champion to his long list of titles in 2017.

They will be joined by five other Paralympians Claire Taggart (Larne, Northern Ireland), Jamie McCowan (South Ayrshire), Patrick Wilson (Edinburgh)) Jess Hunter (Staines, Middlesex) and Evie Edwards (Elmsett, Suffolk).

New faces in the squad complete the line-up. Swansea’s Ricky Stevenson impressed selectors at the 2017 UK Championships where he pushed his mentor David Smith all the way in two close matches. He made his international debut in the 2018 Regional Open Madrid.

Will Hipwell (Papworth Everard, Cambs) made his international debut in 2017 while Louis Saunders (Bognor Regis, Sussex) is the youngest player on squad. At 16, he is currently juggling his training with GCSE studies.

Helen Nicholls, Boccia UK’s recently appointed Performance Director, said:

"The squad is approaching the event with high hopes and confidence. While the line-up includes previous Paralympic and World medallists such as David Smith MBE and Stephen McGuire, it also contains athletes looking to make their mark and deliver significant performances on the world stage, demonstrating a real strength in depth across the four classifications.

“The British team will face significant international challenge in its mission to leave Liverpool with medals and titles however each player selected has demonstrated the dedication, commitment and skill required to put themselves in the place where they can challenge for a position on the podium, which is ultimately what elite sport is all about. The next eight weeks will be about ensuring each selected player can enter the Championships with the best possible preparation to deliver what they are capable of when it really matters.”

The Brits will be joined by around 180 other athletes from 32 nations from right around the globe. They will descend on Liverpool to battle it out for World titles as well as ranking points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.

The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

Legacy plan for the World Championships

With 100 days to go until the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships in Liverpool, Paralympic gold medallist David Smith MBE today unveiled a £32,000 legacy masterplan to improve the lives of local people with disabilities.

Funded by Sport England, the investment aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Liverpool. Smith - who was also on hand today to deliver a boccia masterclass to local club Greenbank Giants and pupils from Broadgreen International School

“It’s fantastic that the World Championships will be hosted in Liverpool. But it’s really important that, long after the final ball is played, there is a legacy of local people with disabilities feeling inspired and more confident to try out the sport of boccia.”

David Smith MBE with pupils from Sandfield Park School

David Smith MBE with pupils from Sandfield Park School

The funding will be invested into establishing a brand new boccia club in the centre of the city. Boccia England will be working with local partners to deliver ‘come and try’ sessions in a range of community settings as well as attending local disability sport festivals and events. Competitive opportunities will also be set up so that players can thrive and improve in the sport. Meanwhile, there will also be a drive to recruit and train local volunteers to support the World Championships as well as future local events and activities.

And while the world’s best boccia players will be competing for World Championship titles, beginners and those curious to try out the sport themselves will be able to get involved in taster sessions every day at the event.

 “Even though boccia is a Paralympic sport, many people don’t even know it exists,” adds Smith. “So we’ll be using the World Championships as a shop window for the sport to get word out there and raise awareness because boccia is a huge lifeline for people with disabilities like mine – it improves coordination, strength and it is a great way to meet people and be sociable.”

Local schools will also be ringing the bell for boccia. The Boccia Skills Award will help pupils develop innovation, responsibility, resilience, communication and evaluation.

Chris Ratcliffe, CEO of Boccia England, explains what the funding means to the sport:

“When we were bidding to host the World Championships, we always knew we wanted to ensure that this was not just a major world class event where the people of the City of Liverpool could come and see the best players from around the globe in action, but also an opportunity for the local community to try out the sport for themselves.

“We are committed to ensuring that the people of Liverpool take boccia to their hearts and that’s why we’ll be setting up a new club in the city, visiting care homes, schools and communities to deliver ‘come and try’ sessions as well as recruiting and training new volunteers.”

Phil Smith, Sport England’s Director of Sport, said: “We’re delighted to support the World Boccia Championships with National Lottery funding to engage the local community.  Boccia is a superb game where disabled people can get more active while having great fun and the World Championships in Liverpool will bring the sport to a wider audience.”

Chair of Boccia UK John Dowson explained:

“We are gearing up to the stage the best BISFed World Boccia Championships ever seen; a truly memorable experience for players and spectators. I am thrilled that the seven days of World class action will be running side by side with a grassroots, legacy programme set to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Liverpool.”

Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We are committed to making it easy for everyone to access sport, and aim to breakdown any barriers which may prevent disabled people from taking up an activity.

“The Boccia World Championships is one of the highlight sporting events of our Liverpool 2018 programme, and we are pleased to be able to shine a spotlight on this competitive activity which will have a tangible legacy in Liverpool.

“Opportunities such as this will build youngster’s confidence and encourage them to try something new and hopefully we will unearth the next generation of Boccia champs!”

David Hadfield, President of Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed), said:

“I am so pleased with how the planning and delivery for the World Championships in Liverpool is progressing. Athletes around the world are looking forward to being able to perform in what will be a quite spectacular venue. If you have not yet bought your tickets, I encourage you to do so and be prepared to be amazed by some of the most exciting sport available this summer.”

The World Championships – which is funded by The National Lottery - is set to attract 190 players from 33 countries to Exhibition Centre Liverpool from the 12-18 August 2018. Athletes will battle it out for world titles, as well as crucially important ranking points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020.

2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

The Road to the Worlds starts in Spain

The Boccia UK squad will travel to Madrid this weekend for the first competition of 2018.

The BISFed European Regional Open will take place in Pinto with competition from the 27th to 31st March. The squad have been training hard over the winter since the successful European Championships in October 2017 that saw David Smith, Jamie McCowan and Stephen McGuire all crowned individual winners.

Following Madrid the squad will travel to Canada in April and Portugal in July before the year's main event, the World Boccia Championships in Liverpool in August.

First though they must brush off any cobwebs in Spain in a field that contains a mix of newcomers and world class players.

David Smith and Ricky Stevenson will compete in the BC1 class with Welshman Stevenson making his international debut following a strong showing at the 2017 UK Championships. He pushed World Number 1 Smith hard at that competition and will be keen to make an impression at this level. Smith's main opposition with be the Netherlands Paralympic Silver medallist Daniel Perez.

The highest ranked player in the BC2 competition is Bernd Meints of the Netherlands at 10 so there is an opportunity for Claire Taggart and Will Hipwell to make an impression on the competition.

Leading the way in the BC3 event is Greek Paralympic legend Greg Polychronidis, the current World number 2. He is not unbeatable however as Scott McCowan overcame him at last years equivalent event in Sant Cugat. World number 4 Jamie McCowan and 10th ranked Patrick Wilson will also be in the mix for medals.

Stephen McGuire tops the BC4 world rankings with Laszlo Hedegus of Hungary his closest challenger at 18. However half the field of twenty are new athletes requiring classification so there is the potential for a bright new talent to emerge. Evie Edwards and Louis Saunders, both taking a break from studying for their degree and GCSE's respectively, will also have the chance to shine, with Edwards having beaten Hedegus to Bronze in Sant Cugat in 2017.

More information on the competition can be found at


Tickets on sale for World Boccia Championships

Tickets have today officially gone on sale for the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships.

A5736 Boccai Facebook 1200 wide .jpg

The World Championships – which is funded by The National Lottery - is set to attract 190 players from 33 countries to Exhibition Centre Liverpool from the 12-18 August 2018. A limited number of early bird tickets are now available and are expected to sell out quickly.

Boccia is a Paralympic sport where the aim is to throw or roll balls closer to the target ball, the jack, than your opponent. All boccia athletes have an impairment that affects all four of their limbs; consequently they play from wheelchairs. It is a sport which requires strategic skill, superb muscle control and precision.

Athletes will battle it out for world titles, as well as crucially important ranking points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020. Hopes are certainly riding high for the British team. Leading the way is David Smith MBE who won gold at the Rio Paralympics in 2016:

“For us as athletes, it’s a huge coup that it is taking place on home turf. Support from a home crowd means everything – we felt it in London 2012 and it was spectacular – and I truly believe that knowing the crowd is willing you on really can lift your performance to another level.

“This is also the first ever international boccia event, outside of a Paralympics, that is ticketed so it is a big moment for the sport. The Championship team is being really innovative in the way it is building a brilliant, spectator-friendly event so if you have never seen international boccia before, here’s your chance. We would really love to see as many of you – schools, clubs, individuals and families – out in force to support us,” added David.

This is a great opportunity to watch world class sporting action ahead of the Paralympic Games in just two years’ time. But the event also aims to create a long-lasting legacy. A family-friendly sports festival showcasing the sport of boccia and the opportunities to play will run alongside the nail-biting sporting action.

Chair of Boccia UK John Dowson explained: “Boccia saw sell-out crowds in London 2012 and Rio 2016. The sport is growing at a terrific pace internationally so we are thrilled to be hosting the BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships. It’s the largest event on the boccia calendar and we are gearing up to provide an unrivalled experience for both athletes and spectators.”

BISFed is the international federation for boccia. Its President David Hadfield said: “I am very excited that we are bringing international boccia to the city of Liverpool. The World Championships is the most important event outside the Paralympic Games, and with more countries and athletes participating than ever before, I am confident that Boccia UK and its partners will organise a magnificent tournament.”

Esther Britten, Head of Major Events at UK Sport said: “We invest National Lottery funding into major sporting events to inspire the nation; hosting the Boccia World Championships will play a key part in helping us achieve this. We look forward to working in partnership with GB Boccia, City of Liverpool and ACC Liverpool to bring this pinnacle event to the UK.”

Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Liverpool and sport go hand in hand, and it’s the perfect city to showcase a variety of major sporting events.  In 2018 we are celebrating ten years since our reign as European Capital of Culture, and to mark this the city is staging an incredible programme of events. The Boccia World Championships are an exciting part of this and we look forward to welcoming the passionate fans to our world class venue for an unforgettable competition.”

The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships has been made possible thanks to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding through its Major Events Programme.

Tickets are available to buy here

Helen Nicholls appointed Boccia UK Performance Director

Following a strong competition we are pleased to announce that Helen Nicholls has been appointed to succeed Matt Hammond as the Performance Director of Boccia UK.

Helen’s background as an athlete, coach and manager within the high performance system - with a number of Olympic, Paralympic, winter and summer sports - will enable her to add enormous value as we develop the potential for the sport further.

John Dowson, Chair of Boccia UK, said "We were very pleased with the overall interest shown by a strong range of candidates and particularly pleased that Helen Nicholls will be taking up the appointment. Her knowledge, built up over a number of sports and through UK Sport, will enable her to make a very strong contribution both in this World Championships year and in the future."

Helen Nicholls said "I am delighted to be joining Boccia UK as Performance Director and to be given the opportunity to lead such a high performing and respected World Class Programme on the journey to Tokyo and beyond. My background in Sailing, where I was an Athlete at a time when lottery funding was first introduced to the UK system, then moving into Coaching at elite level, before moving into management has given me a unique insight into the complex journey to the top of elite sport. My role of Performance Advisor at UK Sport has afforded me a privileged position in supporting and guiding world class programmes to deliver exceptional performances in Olympic and Paralympic sport. I look forwards to using my experience and knowledge to lead Boccia’s world class team in delivering world class results."

Smith and McGuire on top of the World

BISFed have released their updated world rankings and there are two GB athletes topping their individual classes.

BC1 World No 1 David Smith MBE

BC1 World No 1 David Smith MBE

BC4 World No 1 Stephen McGuire

BC4 World No 1 Stephen McGuire

The new system reflects the results of every match in a competition, not just the final position, and should be a more accurate way to gauge the best players in the world.

David Smith MBE retains his place as World Number 1 in BC1 after going the year unbeaten. 2016 Paralympic Champion Smith claimed individual titles at the Regional Open Sant Cugat, World Open Seville, World Open Kansas and also at the European Championships. He will go into the 2018 World Championships in Liverpool as top seed ahead of Thailand's Pattaya Tadtong, the 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist.

Stephen McGuire climbs to the top of the rankings on the back of another impressive year. With an individual World Championship title earned in China in 2016 the Scot has added Gold medals in the Regional Open Sant Cugat, World Open Kansas and European Championships in 2017. He is one of only two Europeans in the top ten, which is dominated by athletes from the Asian region.

European Champion Jamie McCowan is the top ranked GB BC3 athlete in fourth place while Patrick Wilson is in 10th. The BC3 Pair are also 4th.

The ranking positions of all GB athletes are as follows:

BC1/BC2 Team 10th
BC3 Pair 4th
BC4 Pair 5th

BC1 David Smith MBE 1st

BC2 Claire Taggart 23rd
BC2 Will Hipwell 61st

BC3 Jamie McCowan 4th
BC3 Patrick Wilson 10th
BC3 Scott McCowan 21st
BC3 Jess Hunter 58th

BC4 Stephen McGuire 1st
BC4 Evie Edwards 28th
BC4 Louis Saunders 74th

See the full BISFed World Rankings here

Search for new Performance Director begins

Boccia UK today began the search for a successor to Matt Hammond as Performance Director.

High quality candidates are sought to continue Hammond's good work and lead the squad to the World Championships in Liverpool this year before taking them forward to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Adverts have been placed on the UK Sport website and other partner websites.

The job advert can be downloaded here and the candidate brief here.

Applications must be received by 11th January with interviews to be held on 22nd January.

Matt Hammond appointed Performance Director of Tennis Foundation

Boccia UK's Performance Director Matt Hammond has accepted a position with the Tennis Foundation and he will be leaving the organisation in the New Year.

Hammond has been in post for nine years, taking up the role immediately following the Beijing Paralympic Games. He led the squad to two Games himself, with two medals at London 2012 and a Gold in Rio for David Smith

He has overseen the growth and professionalisation of the Programme and leaves with the sport in a far stronger position than when he arrived. Five medals, including three Golds, at the recent European Championships demonstrates that his successor will have a strong squad to take to the World Championships in Liverpool in August 2018.

He will leave with the very best wishes from all Boccia UK's athletes, staff and Board.

John Dowson, Chair of Boccia UK, said “Matt will be much missed as the Performance Director of Boccia UK where his impact has been far beyond medals. He has built a vibrant environment with a strong culture within the World Class Programme. In collaboration with our home country colleagues, he and they have also been building a positive development environment with an eye to the future of the sport. I am sure that the Tennis Foundation will benefit from his experience and we wish him all the best in his new role"

Matt Hammond, departing Performance Director said, "It has been great to work with the boccia community over the last 9 years and see the performance end of the sport develop at an elite level. The current programme players are professional in their approach and understand the demands of the modern game, which is highly competitive and reflects just how far the sport has moved. They have been supported by a World Class team of practitioners and coaches and it has been a privilege for me to see the team grow."

"The results from this year show how important it has been to work with those players that really have the ability, performance behaviours and mind-set to look at the challenges ahead and what is required to succeed at international level. It will be a great Programme for someone to take on for Tokyo and beyond!"

BC3 Pair do the double over Japan in Tokyo

Jamie McCowan and Patrick Wilson headed to Tokyo to compete in the Japan Para Games.

Joined by assistants Linda McCowan and Will Wilson, Team Leader Matt Hammond, Coach Glynn Tromans and physio Fran Lace it was a great opportunity to experience the environment ahead of the Paralympics in 2020.


As an exhibition event well attended by spectators and the media, GB were due to play the Japanese BC3 Pair twice. Having lost to them at the World Open in Kansas this was a good chance to banish those demons but they did not get off to a good start, going 0-3 down. Jamie McCowan however is starting to specialise in comebacks following his European Gold medal and he and Patrick rallied to win 4-3.

The second match was more straightforward with GB taking each end to triumph 4-0 and win the series two nil.


Comeback Kings earn GB three individual European Golds

David Smith won BC1 Gold, Jamie McCowan with assistant Linda McCowan took the BC3 title and Stephen McGuire grabbed top spot in BC4 in an incredible last day at the 2017 BISFed European Championships in Portugal.

Smith had cruised to the final and looked set to continue his tournament winning streak stretching way back into 2016. He cruised into the final, ruthlessly dispatching his opponents en route. He then came up against Mikhail Gutnik of Russia in the final, who did not follow the script and he was 4-0 down with an end remaining. But Smith showed what champions are made of to stun Gutnik and clinch a 5-4 victory.

Jamie McCowan's comeback was even more unlikely. Having ground out a 3-2 semi final win over his brother's conqueror, Greg Polychronidis of Greece, he faced surprise package Damian Iskrzycki from Poland for Gold. Iskrzycki had beaten Patrick Wilson in the quarter finals so his quality was clear but he stunned McCowan, taking all six points on the first end. McCowan played himself back into the game with three points in the second end but a tied third end still left him three points adrift with an end to play. Renowned for his fighting spirit, McCowan didn't give up and took four points on the final end to win 8-7 for his maiden European title.

Stephen McGuire's comeback came in his quarter final against World Number 2 Samuel Andrecijk of Slovakia, three down after two and taking four on the third end to take the lead. He withheld a fightback from another Slovak, Micaela Balcova, in the semi holding out for a 5-3 win  He traded ends with Russia's Sergey Safin to sit 1-1 at the half way stage in the final but powered away to triumph 6-1 and add the European title to his World title from 2016.

GB finished the competition with five medals from seven events and topped the medal table with three golds.

GOLD Individual BC1 - David Smith MBE
GOLD Individual BC3 - Jamie McCowan (assistant Linda McCowan)
GOLD Individual BC4 - Stephen McGuire
SILVER Pairs BC3 - Jamie McCowan (assistant Linda McCowan), Scott McCowan (assistant Gary McCowan, Patrick Wilson (assistant Will Wilson)
SILVER Pairs BC4 - Stephen McGuire, Evie Edwards, Louis Saunders

A Pair of Silvers at the Europeans

Great Britain won two Silver medals in the Team and Pairs events of the 2017 BISFed European Championships, held in Povoa de Varzim, Portugal.

The BC4 Pair of Stephen McGuire, Evie Edwards and Louis Saunders were closest to a Gold medal as their final against Portugal, who they had earlier beaten at the pool stage, went down to a tie break after finishing 3-3. GB were holding a two point lead as the match went into the final end but Portugal scored two to take the game to the extra end.

They had started with a close match against Croatia which they won 3-2 before a 15-0 triumph over Greece settled the nerves. They also won their other two pool games, 5-2 over Germany and a 4-1 win over Portugal.

Topping Pool B, they faced the second placed pair in Pool A, Russia. A 5-1 win set up the rematch with Portugal who toppled the Pool A winners and World Number 1’s Slovakia.

The BC3 Pair of Patrick Wilson, Jamie McCowan and Scott McCowan also took Silver. They recovered from a 1-4 loss to France in their Pool to record three victories, 4-3 over Portugal, 6-3 over Spain and 7-0 over Denmark.

That set up a semi-final against Greece which they started well, taking two on the first end. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, running out 5-2 winners. They then faced Russia in the final, who had defeated Sweden 6-0 in the other semi final.

Russia started strongly and were 6-0 up after two ends. GB had to chase the game and were punished further with the match ending 11-0, with Russia taking a first European title.

The BC1/BC2 Team of David Smith, Claire Taggart and Will Hipwell were unable to progress from their pool despite a strong start. Victories on the first day against Italy 6-4 and Israel 9-3 put them into a strong position.

They suffered defeat to Russia 7-3 but a win in their final match against Slovakia would have seen them through. GB were 3-2 up going into the final end but lost two points meaning Slovakia took the runners up slot behind Israel and went on to take the Gold medal, defeating Greece in the final.

The individual competition now begins with David Smith, Stephen McGuire and Jamie McCowan coming into the competition off the back of medals in the recent World Open in Kansas.