A couple of months ago, Zak asked me to find somewhere for him to play Boccia. For those of you who don't know what Boccia is, it's a paralympic sport, created for athletes with cerebral palsy, and other impairments. You have to play it sitting in a chair, and it's similar to bowls - you have a white 'jack' ball, and you have to get your own coloured balls nearest to it to win.
After a few weeks of looking for a Boccia club in our county, I found that most of the 'clubs' available were either within schools or residential places. I did find one locally, but it was for people 60+! That was in a residential home anyway.
Unable to find anywhere for Zak to play, I threw a flippant remark at him, saying maybe we should start up our own club, since there was nothing about. Zak agreed, in fact he seemed really impressed by the idea.
As I'd never done anything like this before it was difficult to know where to start, but I phoned the governing body of Boccia in the UK, and they thought it was a great idea. They in turn gave my email address to a couple of people. One person who called was a trustee of the local leisure centre group, and someone who knew about Boccia - what a result! She put me in touch with the manager of our local centre, and a meeting was booked for the 14th January.
It all seemed to happen so fast after that. I had the meeting with the manager and a young man who's title was Disability Co-ordinator, it is a new post there, but it basically means it's his job to get the disabled into the centre. It was only after that meeting that the club was officially formed. What happened next was a blur in my eyes.
Within three weeks, I had a club name, a bank account, flyers, posters, designs for pin badges and stickers, and a website. I had also designed banners (4' x 2' for promotion purposes), tee shirts, not to mention I was able to take part in a official Boccia England training course!
Part of the meeting at the leisure centre was to do with what they were already setting up for disabled young people. They were putting on some multisport activities, such as wheelchair basketball, or table cricket, wall climbing and other such sports. I was asked if I would be able to an introduction to Boccia on their taster days, so I jumped at the chance. I decided the best option was to be able to take Zak, so Friday evenings 5pm - 6pm were organised. The first one is on March 4th.
The next logical action was to book my own taster days and so Jo accompanied me to the centre and I booked a month of Sundays to see if this idea/club would be viable. Paul the manager was so keen to get our club there, he gave us two hours in the sports hall free to use as our own taster sessions to introduce people to Boccia and our club.
Now we have a website, email address and are even on Facebook!
All the contact details are on our website with information on our taster sessions;
Zak is very pleased, as he has the membership number 001. He has his own laminated membership photo ID and a cool lanyard we bought him from Barcelona this week.
I also received a message from Boccia England asking me to contact a woman about 30 miles away, which I did straight away. It turns out that she used to play on the national Boccia team, and has been looking for such a club for years! I was pleased to be able to tell her all about the club, show her our website and facebook page, and she seemed very excited.
It proved to me that this club is exactly what some wheelchair users have been waiting for - they start to play the game within their schools or placements, and then once they leave, there is nowhere for them to go to play. More importantly, it somewhere for people who have been or still are wrapped up in their 'bubble' to get out, and meet new people in a similar situation.
There is a sad lack of social occasions for wheelchair users in this area, but hopefully that is about to change.
Fingers crossed all will go well on our taster days, and we start to form a regular membership!