Boccia is a precision ball sport originally from Italy and now practised worldwide by athletes with disabilities. The sport is designed for people with physical disabilities and the aim is to place as many balls as possible closer to the white ‘jack’ than your opponent.
The origins of the sport date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but the modern version of the sport was developed in Italy in 16th century. It was included in the Paralympics in 1984 and is currently played in more than 70 countries around the world.
Boccia is played on a rectangular playing field 12.5 metres long and 6 metres wide. The balls are thrown by hand, foot or with a roller chute. The aim of the sport is to place as many balls as possible closer to the target than your opponent. The target consists of a white ball, also called the jack, which is thrown at the beginning of each end.
There are four classes of participants, depending on the nature of their physical handicap. These are as follows:
– BC1: athletes with severe coordination disability who play the ball by hand or foot.
– BC2: athletes with a coordinative disability who are allowed to throw the ball by hand.
– BC3: athletes with a severe physical disability who play the ball using a ramp. It can be played by athletes with cerebral palsy, muscle disease, paraplegia or other neurological conditions.
– BC4: athletes with severe limitations in strength who play the ball by hand or foot.
A boccia match starts with a toss to decide which team plays with red and which plays with blue. The team playing with red gets to throw the jack first. Then both teams throw their balls to get as close to the jack as possible. The team whose ball is closest to the jack scores one or more points.