My name is Azhad and I am a BC3 athlete and an aspiring Paralympian. I have been playing boccia for almost seven years after finding about it in school. I have always loved physical sport and I was determined to find something that I could play. Boccia gave me an opportunity to build my confidence which I have noticed has improved after every training session and every match. I love that it gives me a sense of achievement from training and reignites an excitement every time I play. 

My experience with boccia has taught me skills that I can use in my daily life such as teamwork and tenacity. It has also taught me vital leadership skills such as positivity and communication that I will hopefully use in the future and become a role model to young people. 

Boccia has also given me the opportunity to travel around the country and meet inspiring people from around the world. I loved taking part in the regional and national competitions as much as I love taking part in my local school competitions. In 2017, I won the School Sports Person of the Year because of my involvement in Boccia. It was an incredible experience being recognised for my hard work. From then, I have won Gold in the regional Heathcoat, School and Smile competitions which I am always grateful for and has driven me to train harder and wiser.

I can’t thank my local clubs enough: Boccia Durham, Vipers, Boccia England and the Percy Hedley Sports Academy. The encouragement from the volunteers, coaches and parents have supported me throughout my journey with Boccia. With their perseverance and passion, I have achieved a lot of my goals, and I will push to make my family and teammates proud.

During the lockdown, the Rainbow Cup was an amazing way to stay connected and to share my progress with friends and family which has given them a small insight to what Boccia was and how important it is to me. It sparked a spirit that I thought had been lost during isolation and made me more motivated and competitive with every challenge. It allowed me to be creative and use the limited space and resources around me that I never knew could be helpful for training. And it was always so much fun! The different challenges trained me to adapt to the environment which taught me to use different techniques that I will hopefully use in my matches. 

Boccia will always be my passion and it has opened a path that I can confidently pursue in the future. It has changed my life and it’s given me opportunities to achieve my personal goals. Boccia gave me a dream to work hard for. I will work and train hard until the day I represent in the Paralympics.