Sports loving Wrexham care home residents bowled over by Paralympic sport Boccia

Care home residents in Wrexham have been getting to grips with an exciting Paralympic sport.

The residents of Pendine Park’s homes in Wrexham have become big fans of the ball game Boccia, which was first introduced into the Paralympic Games back in 1984 and is set to feature again in Paris this summer.

Pendine Park residents are sure to be among the millions of viewers worldwide who will be watching when it celebrates its 40th anniversary at the games in Paris this summer.

In the latest tournament, the residents of the Penybryn and Highfield care homes were pitted against each other, led by enrichment and activities coordinators Elaine Lee and Nicky Clarke.

The sport is designed specifically for athletes with a disability affecting their mobility which makes it ideal for residents at Penybryn which specialises in brain injuries and neurological problems.

Players throw, kick or use a ramp to propel a ball onto an indoors court with the aim of getting closest to a ‘jack’ ball.

It involves two teams of six, arranged in a large circle with the playing arena in the centre.

The rules are similar to bowls, but it is played using softer balls and players can throw or roll the balls from a height if necessary.

It was first introduced to Pendine Park by the company’s admin executive and sports co-ordinator Matt Palamarczuk, who has cerebral palsy and has trained to be a qualified Boccia coach.

Elaine said: “When it comes to Boccia, it is now so popular that sometimes we have a job fitting everyone in. But we always manage it in the end.

“We run a lot of recreational activities but we always make a point of asking our residents what they want to be included on the weekly or monthly programme. Boccia is one of their favourite activities.”

Enthusiasts Darron Nicholas and Janusz Fas say they enjoy the skill involved in trying to roll the ball with just enough force to get as close as possible to the jack, or – more sneakily – to push an opposing team’s ball out of the way.

Fellow resident Lynn Kelly said: “It’s a great game to play in the mornings so you build up an appetite for lunch.”

Activities coordinator Nicky Clarke said it is a good way of bringing residents from different homes together for some fun socialising.

Elaine added: “What is so nice is the way they all support each other. No matter which team they are on they will all encourage whichever player is making a shot at the jack at the time.

“It’s great to see the mutual respect between them for the skill which is involved. The more physically able players will get right behind those with less mobility and encourage them to have a go.”

Keen player Sandra Swift said:  “In the end it’s all about team spirit. None of us  mind supporting a player who might technically be on the other side. It’s about us all having a go.”

Elaine added: “As well as physical activities like Boccia we have a lot of residents who like doing maths because are keen to exercise their brains too with some sums and practice sessions at calculating money.

“It’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from Boccia but it demands equal concentration and it’s still a challenging a workout, just for a different part of the body!”

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