Boccia England, the national governing body for the disability sport, has released the findings of its 2020 survey which show that, despite the impact of Covid-19, the game is making a significant difference for players with limited mobility. 81% say playing boccia is having a positive impact on their daily lives, and for 76%, participating in the game has improved their confidence.

Asked about playing boccia outside of the Covid-19 restrictions, 66% replied that they play once a week or more, and 39% say it has encouraged them to get involved in other activities where possible.

Boccia is an international target ball game played from a seated position and is ideal for wheelchair users. It tests muscle control and accuracy as players propel balls to land close to a white marker ball. Over 54,000 people in England played the game in 2020, and for over half the regular players it is the only sporting option open to them.

The survey asked about the impact of Covid-19 on players’ levels of activity and on their mental health. 51% of respondents are less active now as a direct result of the need to stay safe, and for 47% there has been a significant impact on mental wellbeing.

Nineteen-year-old Azhad Fauzi plays boccia through his club in Durham. During the first pandemic lockdown, Azhad took part in The Rainbow Cup, an online competition organised by Boccia England. He says:

“The Rainbow Cup was an amazing way to stay connected and to share my progress with friends and family. It 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.”

CEO of Boccia England Chris Ratcliffe said:

“The results of our annual survey cover the period affected by the pandemic when we launched Boccia at Home. I’m delighted to see how the game is being played for fun, or competitively in kitchens, dining rooms and gardens and then streamed online. It’s all about giving people a way to build back physical and mental resilience, as well as maintaining a sense of social and community involvement.

“In time we will be able to get back to our local clubs and the face-to-face competitions all of us enjoy. Despite the limitations we face, it’s clear from the survey that this game makes a massive difference in the lives of people who would otherwise miss out on the benefits a sport can bring”.


For more information, including full details of the Big Boccia Survey 2020: Cally Keetley, Boccia England [email protected]



Boccia England is a registered Charity and the National Governing Body for boccia in England. The charity is responsible for the grass roots development of the game to the point where athletes compete in World Class events. These World Class competitions are managed by Boccia UK.

Key Facts: April 2019 – March 2020

54,892 people play boccia in England:

  • 8,029 (15%) are regular players
  • 21,257 are inactive participants (coaches, referees, volunteers, etc)
  • 25,606 players in educational settings

74 affiliated clubs and schools

Boccia England receives funding from Sport England as well as from several other smaller funders.


Boccia (pronounced ‘botcha’) is derived from the ancient Italian game of bocce and is similar to the French boules game, pétanque. Boccia is thought to have evolved from one of the first games played in ancient Greece and Egypt where large stones would have been thrown at a target. Sir Francis Drake and Lord Howard even played a game in Plymouth, England, whilst waiting for the arrival of the Spanish Armada in 1588. It is believed that Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing the game before leaving to defeat the enemy.

The sport is contested at local, national and international levels, by athletes with severe physical disabilities. It was originally designed to be played by people with cerebral palsy.  Now the game is played by athletes with other severe disabilities affecting motor skills, and increasingly enjoyed by the elderly and school pupils.

In 1984, boccia became a Paralympic sport and is governed by the Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed). It  is one of only two Paralympic sports (along with goalball) that have no Olympic equivalent.


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