Impact Stories Owen's boccia story I first got involved in playing boccia when I was at Bradfields Academy in Medway, Kent (my secondary school at the time). The sport interested me at the Panathlon games and the School Games where I took part and won loads of medals. It interested me as it gave me opportunities and confidence that people in wheelchairs are able to get involved in sport. It allowed me to feel included as a male in a wheelchair. I then went to Medway Sport’s Multi-Sport Disability Club try-outs, hosted by Medway Park. This allows people of any ability or level of disability a chance to have fun and try different sports. When I arrived, I tried different sports but I also noticed a boccia club, which to my amazement was only in Gillingham. After having a few games, I asked if I was allowed to go to the club and play. The club is Prince Arthur Boccia Club, which is in Prince Arthur Indoor Bowling Club. After playing a few times, I was asked if I would like to be a part of the Prince Arthur Boccia Knights team – this was back in 2016. To this day I am still a member of the Prince Arthur Boccia Knights. I have been classified as a BC2 athlete by Boccia England and since being classified I have competed in several individual competitions, the most memorable ones being in Hatfield and Crawley as part of the Heathcoat Cup. In 2019, I won a silver medal at Hatfield. Most recently (2021), I won gold in the Back To Boccia Local South East Competition in Canterbury. I also won Participation Athlete of the Year at the 2021 Boccia England Awards, which was held on the 10th December. The main thing I love about playing boccia is that it allows me to be part of a team, as it makes me feel that disabled people can play sport no matter their ability or disability. I also love to play boccia because it provides me with the opportunity to make new friends while pushing myself to be the best I possibly can. It also allows me to train my hardest to develop new skills. Being involved in boccia brings me so much happiness and I love it so much! I just wish more people understood how fun the sport is to get involved in. The impact that boccia has had on my life has been dramatic. Before I started playing boccia I was a very shy and quiet person would not enter any competitions unless I was with my secondary school or had a large group of people with me. Now I am a very confident person and have entered loads of competitions, even on an individual basis. I have made so many new friends. I have even made it on the BBC South East News, in order to promote the club that I go to, which I don’t think I would have done before playing boccia. It still amazes me to this day! During the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world dramatically in 2020, my boccia club was forced to close. However this didn’t stop me playing boccia, it just stopped me meeting my friends. To continue playing boccia, I made my mum and dad move all of the furniture out of the way in the front room, so that I had a big clear space to ensure I got an approximate size of a boccia court. This was to ensure the accuracy and precision of a boccia game and my shots. I continued to practice my knock on, lay ups and knock off. I wish I had practiced my penalty shots more. I was so happy when the club was able to reopen with Covid safety measures in place to ensure that we could practice safely. This allowed me to continue to practice and develop. Due to this I entered the Back to Boccia Local competition, where it allowed me the opportunity to play against other athletes of different classifications. With my practising I reached the final where I won 9-0 against a fellow team member of the Prince Arthur Boccia Knights. No one knows what the future holds. My short-term goals are to continue developing my skills so that I can achieve gold in Crawley in March 2022. Another short-term goal I would like to achieve is continue to work and train hard to the best of my ability. My long-term goal is to reach the Paralympics to represent GB (but isn’t that everyone’s?) and to inspire disabled children and adults that just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you cannot take part in sport. By taking part in boccia, it allows me to raise awareness of boccia and the issues associated with disability. To do this, I post my results of my games on my social media, so that all of my family and friends can see my achievements, especially my friends who have disabilities. I also speak about my achievements and what boccia is to my teachers and friends in the college that I attend. I have helped raise money for my boccia club, while promoting the club through newspaper and television adverts. Talking about boccia and myself as a disabled person allows me raise the issues surrounding disability and the challenges that I face and the stigma around disability sport. Finally, I try and make people aware that just because I have a disability doesn’t mean that I can’t do anything, especially sport. I just need some support.