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.”
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.