Boccia, which means ‘ball’ in Italian, was initially designed for people with cerebral palsy. It is now played by athletes who have any kind of neurological impairment that affects their motor function.
Boccia is a game of high strategy, where a single shot can reverse fortunes. The Boccia field of play is the same size as a badminton court (12.5 metres x 6m). First, a white target ball called the jack is thrown, followed by the throwing or rolling of six red and six blue balls by each player, pair or team, called an ‘end’. At the close of each end, the player, pair or team whose ball is closest to the jack scores one point, and receives an additional point for every ball that sits closer to the jack than the opposition’s closest ball. Individual and pairs matches consist of four ends, while team events are held over six ends. The athlete, pair or team gaining the most points is the winner.
Men and women compete together and there are four classes (BC1-4) based on the type or degree of impairment. This sport is one of two that does not have an Olympic counterpart.