Virtually Boccia was launched in October 2020, with challenges starting in January 2021, to temporarily replace our traditional face to face National Schools Competition due to the restrictions of COVID-19. Through skills-based challenges, Virtually Boccia was designed to provide an opportunity for students across the country to compete with other students in a slightly different way. All the students that complete the activities contribute to an overall score for their school or college.

“Our students have enjoyed learning a new sport that they didn’t know anything about. They’ve enjoyed learning new skills each round to help them improve their techniques.”

Teacher at school in Shropshire.

In April 2021, we worked with the Association of Colleges sport team to support the delivery of a virtual boccia competition which came as a result of their face-to-face competition delivery being postponed due to the pandemic.

The Figures

Over 6,400 students aged from 4-19 have taken part in virtual boccia competitions, either through the Boccia England rounds of Virtually Boccia or the Association of Colleges virtual boccia competition. Of these students taking part, approximately 12% had a physical disability and over 55% of the 164 schools and colleges had students with a physical disability competing against their peers.

Overcoming Barriers

One of the main challenges that the schools and colleges faced was access to their students, as Virtually Boccia began in January when most pupils were home-learning due to Covid-19.  There have been some creative ways of engaging with large groups; the use of Microsoft Teams and Zoom has been a popular approach with teachers assigning students into break out rooms together to complete the challenges.

The Experience and impact of Virtually Boccia?

For one student in the North West, Virtually Boccia had become a lifeline “During lockdown, the boccia challenges made a real difference to one of our students who was feeling very down about the length of the lockdown. He really needed something different to do at home other than his schoolwork, virtually and he really enjoyed doing the challenges.”

Virtually Boccia has provided an inclusive format to reach pupils who would not usually engage in school sport.  “Children that often find it hard to engage with PE activities really enjoyed the boccia activities.” Teacher at an Essex Primary School

 “It has given them the opportunity to try something new and different.  Some children really excelled in this when they wouldn't in the some of the more frequent PE activities”.

Teacher at primary school in South Yorkshire.

 Virtually Boccia has also enabled cross-curricular activity to take place, one school highlighted that “the Virtually Boccia Challenges was a good way to incorporate maths in a practical way with her class”.

Not only were teachers seeing the inclusivity of the challenges and the way the challenges supported other areas of the curriculum, but others also identified how these challenges had supported their students’ personal development. One teacher from...said “it is clear to me that they have developed their confidence, social skills and general skill level in both practices and games.” Jayden, a student from the Black Country is passionate about boccia and said, ”I love boccia and beating Sir”.

What’s to come?

Virtually Boccia will be returning in September!

Following the success to date, plans are in place for a new edition of Virtually Boccia to launch on Friday 10th September, following the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Further details on the revised format will be released in the coming weeks.

Thank you

To all the teachers, teaching assistants and support staff who have adapted and delivered the challenges physically or virtually, thank you.

And finally, we would like to thank the Trustees of the Boost Charitable Trust for making it possible for us to run the Virtually Boccia Challenge and have an impact on the lives of over 6,000 young people across the country.