Last year, the St Giles’ Boccia team qualified for the Lord’s Taverners National School Boccia Championships, held at the English Institute of Sport on 20th May 2016. The team had already played in various competitions to qualify for the final and were one of twelve finalists from over 690 teams that entered. To attend the final competition in Sheffield, the team needed to fundraise the money to pay for the accommodation, transport and staffing costs. They organised a raffle, a school quiz night and received sponsorship from local businesses to help fund the trip. They also received a £90 Educational Visit Grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation to cover the cost of fuel.
The St Giles’ team is made up of three players, 12-year-old Sana Hanif, the team captain, Glory Nnama and Jamie Brown, who have been playing Boccia together since 2015. Boccia is a disability sport of strategy and accuracy, where players aim to propel balls close to a target ball. The game was originally designed to be played by people with cerebral palsy but now the sport includes all athletes with impairments that affect motor skills.
Before the Lord’s Taverners final, the team had never competed at such a high level before, they had also never been away from home overnight before, so it was a big challenge for them in many ways. Not only did they get the chance to play in a national competition, it was also an opportunity for them to bond as a team and grow in independence on a trip away from their parents.
Before the event, the team were also treated to a tour of the English institute of Sport, where they were introduced to the GB boxing team and got to watch them train. The St Giles’ team played brilliantly; they stayed focused throughout the four games played and remained cool under pressure. The St Giles’ team ended up reaching 7th place, which is a fantastic result for their first ever national Boccia game!
The team were incredibly proud of themselves with Sana saying that she “was excited but nervous at the same time during the finals”, but that they are “over the moon” at the result.
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