A little about boccia

While many people don’t even know how to pronounce boccia (note to self: it rhymes with gotcha), it is the fastest-growing disability sport in the world.

A Paralympic sport with no Olympic counterpart, it is a game of strategy and accuracy. And Britain is home to some of the best boccia players in the world.

At the Paris Paralympic Games, Great Britain will field a five-strong team including David Smith OBE and Claire Taggart, who are both at the top of the world rankings.

How do you play boccia?

Similar to boules, players must throw, roll or kick coloured balls as close as possible to a white target ball, known as the “jack.”

Testing muscle control, strategy and accuracy, you can compete as an individual, pairs or as a team of three over a set number of ends. Each side has six balls (red or blue) each end to try and score points. Points are accumulated over the course of a match to find a winner.

Who can play boccia?

Anyone can play boccia. But to be eligible to play at international level at events such as World Championships and Paralympic Games, elite competitors must have impairments in all four limbs.

The benefits of boccia

Playing boccia is hugely beneficial. Fiona Muirhead has recently joined the Boccia UK squad and says that playing has improved her condition:

“I have muscular dystrophy and I started out by playing curling but the cold conditions really didn’t suit me. They suggested I try the local boccia club and not only have I travelled to various countries playing at top competitions, but the training and playing has really stabilised my condition.”

Scott McCowan has recently retired from international competition after a hugely successful 16-year career which has seen him compete at three Paralympic Games.

He has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and says:

“Often people think they can’t play a sport because of their disability. Sometimes there is a nervousness in case it worsens a condition. But really people should play as soon as possible. Boccia keeps me active and fit which is crucial for my quality of life. And in terms of mental wellbeing, the sociable side of the sport is fantastic and it can help boost confidence and self-esteem too.”

What are the opportunities in boccia for careworkers?

Each athlete is supported by a boccia assistant. The assistant provides care and assistance throughout the tournament and also helps on court. David Smith OBE uses a few different careworkers to assist him. Their role on court is to select the ball that David requests.

Athletes with less mobility wear a head pointer and propel the ball down a ramp – this means that their assistant needs to adjust the ramp to absolute precision. The ramp assistants also win medals as this is very much seen as a partnership.

Connor Wellfare is supporting Will Arnott at the Paris Paralympic Games this summer.

He explains:

“It is a demanding job, especially when we’re at a competition as it’s just me and Will which means I am his carer as well as ramp assistant. It’s 24/7. That’s why it’s so important that we get on well.

Life as a ramp assistant means travelling all over the UK to attend training camps and it means jetting off around the world to compete at major competitions. It also requires a huge amount of training, day in and day out, in a sports hall. You need to be prepared to really commit yourself.”

If you are interested in becoming a boccia assistant, please contact potential@boccia.uk.com

Do you know someone who has the potential to compete at a Paralympic Games?

Boccia UK is on the lookout for the next generation of Paralympians. We are looking for people who are competitive, creative problem solvers and good at strategy games.

Physically, we are looking for people who are QUADRIPLEGIC, as a result of:


If you know someone suitable or if you have any questions, please contact us at potential@boccia.uk.com