The first ever boccia open competition held in the Borders has been hailed as a great success. The open competition held at the Queens Centre in Galashiels on Saturday 29 August attracted 40 entrants from all over the region with additional competitors travelling from as far afield as Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Boccia is a Paralympic sport closely related to bowls but which is played by competitors with a physical or learning disability from a sitting position. The game is growing in popularity in the Borders with over 45 people playing every week in groups based in Eyemouth, Galashiels, Hawick and Peebles. There are also plans to set up new groups in Kelso and Duns.
Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, 70 group matches were played out before the elimination stages. In the finals, Faizan Mustafa (Edinburgh Flyers) won the learning disability section while Adam Stafford (Edinburgh) overcame Eyemouth Pirates coach, Neil McMurdo in the final of the disability section.
There was an all-Borders play-off in the Assistive Device finals where Hawick’s Lewis Teckham beat another Eyemouth Pirates player, Douglas Boyd in a thrilling contest.
Callum MacDonald, who coaches the Peebles boccia group and took part in the competition said: “It was a brilliant day. It’s great to see so many people enjoying playing and hopefully the success of the event will see more people joining their local group.”
Contestant Jennifer Freedman from Galashiels added: “Although I didn’t win I really enjoyed playing in the competition. It’s a great way of keeping fit and meeting new people.”
Councillor Joan Campbell, Scottish Borders Council’s Learning Disability Champion sent her congratulations to everyone who took part, saying: “This was a tremendous event which demonstrates just how much interest there is in giving people who have a disability the chance to take part in sport. The games were competitive with players showing great skill but they were also played in the right spirit with people thoroughly enjoying themselves.”
The Borders boccia open competition will now become an annual event and a key feature of the Scottish Disability Sport and Borders Sports & Leisure Trust event calendars.
A Borders Boccia Club has been established with support from the Council and NHS Borders Joint Learning Disability Service, Borders Sports & Leisure Trust, the Scottish Borders Disability Sports Group and Scottish Disability Sport.
The club is working hard to attract grant funding to support the continued development of the sport in the Borders with the aim of giving people who have a disability the opportunity to participate in an enjoyable and competitive activity.
Councillor Campbell added: “Encouraging people to improve their personal health and wellbeing is important for everyone and this is a great way for people with a disability to do so while having fun at the same time. Local boccia groups are always on the lookout for new members and I would encourage anyone who would like to get involved to get in touch with the Local Area Co-ordination team to find out more.”
To find out more about the club or how to get involved, contact David Cook, Local Area Co-ordinator (Health & Wellbeing) on 01361 886103 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org