Blackpool Boccia's medal magic in national finals
Blackpool Boccia Club are medal marvels.
The Blackpool team won bronze at the National Boccia League Finals in Sheffield.
The disability team based at Blackpool Sports Centre in Stanley Park won their North West League to earn a place with 15 other elite teams from across the country in the national finals at Ponds Forge.
Having won their group in Sheffield and reached the semi-finals, Blackpool Boccia were beaten by eventual champions Pace A from London.
But they soon got back into the winning habit, defeating Paul’s Place Raiders in the third-place play-off to return to the Fylde coast with bronze medals.
Boccia is similar to bowls and involves throwing leather balls at a target, called a jack.
It is ideally suited to wheelchair participation and can be enjoyed by people with a wide range of disabilities.
Blackpool Boccia continues to grow and now has over 20 members.
Team manager Tony Edmondson explained: “A lot of disabled sport is aimed at young people but boccia is perfect for adults. Blackpool Boccia provides an opportunity for people to represent their town in a national competition.
“A lot of our members don’t want to play competitively, though, and they enjoy the social and recreational side.”
Blackpool Boccia won eight of their 10 matches to come first in one of three North-West leagues. Teams from Bury and Stockport won the others and also won through to Sheffield.
The Blackpool team’s success was all the sweeter after they missed out on their league title in 2016, pipped by just one point after a play-off.
“It’s a sport most people don’t know a lot about,” admits Tony. The success of Blackpool Boccia will hopefully help to rectify that, as will governing body Boccia England’s National Boccia Day on August 12.