Tuesday 26 June 2012
Jenny Neill and Conor Brannigan, two of Cedar’s Service Users have found exercise, enjoyment and a healthy level of competition by playing boccia in their local leisure centre. Despite playing for rival teams, they maintain a fun and friendly outlook.
Boccia is an inclusive sport that is usually played from a seated position. It is played between two teams of 3 people, using small leather balls, one team with red balls and the other with blue. Each person will have 2 balls and the teams take turns in trying to get their coloured ball as close to the white ‘jack’ as possible. Boccia offers a fair playing field for all as it can be played by all ages and by people with different abilities. Players with functional limitations can use chutes or ramps to play their ball into the game. Whether being played for competition or just for fun, boccia is widely accessible and enjoyed by many!
Jenny and Conor practice on a weekly basis with Jigsaw NI and have had the opportunity to take their well-polished skills into the competition field. Jenny has played boccia for a number of years with Jigsaw NI, and she enjoys competing in a number of boccia tournaments. Her team, ‘Mary’s Mates’ competed against 15 other boccia teams from all over Belfast. They are the first to win the Sam Hunter Shield for two consecutive years since it began in 2003. Although new to the game only last year, Conor has picked up the skills of the game quickly and has shown natural talent. He competes with his team ‘The 3 C’s’ each week and proves fierce competition for his opponents.
Both Jenny and Conor are looking forward to showing off their skills this year at the Cedar Summer programme on 8th August. Boccia is being played by more and more people and with the Paralympics Ireland team preparing for victory in London 2012 its popularity is only set to grow.
Noticing the increased number of Cedar trainees playing and showing interest in the sport, there are talks of starting our own Cedar boccia group. The group welcomes newcomers as well as those who have played the sport before. There is sure to be enjoyment for all. If there is enough interest, there is hope to introduce a Cedar boccia league held across Northern Ireland.
Jenny and Conor have been supported through Cedar’s Community Inclusion Programme in Belfast. CIP supports people who are over 18 years of age with physical/sensory disability or with medical conditions who want to become more actively involved in their local community, supporting people to access training, voluntary work, leisure and recreational activities and social networking opportunities. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9061 2424.