Rowan House resident Duncan Pollock was asked to envision what a "good life" would look like for him — playing boccia was top of his list.
His dream for Boccia in the Bay has grown into reality, with the first session taking place this Saturday, June 1 from 1.30pm at the Taradale Primary School hall.
Duncan planned and initiated a boccia pilot last December, after personal planning sessions with staff from Presbyterian Support East Coast service Enliven.
"Duncan has supporters in like-minded people, including former New Zealand Paralympian gold medallist, Sarah Hansen, and other friends who are keen to support and have a go," says Mosaic programme co-ordinator Susie Chapman.
"He contacted Sport Hawke's Bay to see how they could help in getting the sport started here."
Susie says Sport Hawke's Bay disability and inclusion adviser, Katie Owen, has assisted Duncan in getting boccia going and making connections with Boccia New Zealand.
"Sport Hawke's Bay has been part of the team approach collaborating with those who want to play and promotion through its networks. Access, a disability provider, has offered two of its staff members as volunteers. It's a true community collaboration."
Susie says at Enliven, which runs services for people living with a disability, including Mosaic, they work alongside clients to achieve their goals.
"We're delighted to be part of this with Duncan."
Boccia is a precision ball sport similar to petanque and bowls whereby athletes throw, kick or use a ramp to propel a ball onto the court, aiming to get close to a target ball (jack). Played indoors from a seated position using soft leather balls on a smooth rectangular court, boccia can be played as a competition between individuals, pairs or teams of three.
Boccia is a game of skill and strategy and is an inclusive sport in which men and women of all ages and abilities can play together. It is a Paralympic sport with no Olympic counterpart and is designed specifically for athletes with a disability affecting locomotor function.
Susie says boccia is beneficial in many ways for all people playing the sport.
"There are benefits for health, being fit and active, and social connection with others in the community. The game is physical as well as strategic – it gets the brain going — you have to think where and when to play your ball."
Enliven clients are keen to have an opportunity to learn new skills and compete with people with similar abilities.
"Boccia is a game that can be played by people with different abilities."
Although boccia is primarily a sport for people with physical impairments, people of all abilities can play.
"We welcome anyone interested in joining in or simply supporting the players, so please come along."
Duncan says it is the only sport he can play and compete with others of similar ability — and he loves it.
"He is keen to play for fun. He enjoys the physical activity and the strategy of the game. A player is in control of the ball, the distance and the execution."
Susie says there's the physical challenge, the strategic challenge – knowing when to play a shot and the emotional connection of participating.
"Scott Martin from Boccia New Zealand says there is no reason why Duncan could not be better than a non-disabled person," Susie says.
She says this is not a "one-size-fits-all" type of sport.
"Some players throw the boccia ball, some use hand, head or mouth pointers, some kick the ball.
"Some people use ramps, which a ramp assistant will only move after instructed by the player."
Boccia NZ is supplying some ramps for players but Enliven will need to fundraise for the cost of this equipment.
"They have also funded the rental of the school hall to get us started."
Susie says boccia also provides an emotional and social connection – getting out and doing something different and accessing our community.
"That's the most important part. And it's amazing to watch someone do what you think is not possible – breaking boundaries of what you thought someone couldn't do."
Boccia in the Bay organisers are looking forward to sharing "all about boccia" and introducing people to the game.
"Come along and join us for a fun-filled session starting at 1.30pm on Saturday, June 19. Bring your attitude and be prepared to meet others and have fun."
What: Boccia in the Bay
When: Saturday, June 19, starting 1.30pm
Where: Taradale Primary School Hall
Info: Bring friends and whanau. All abilities welcome. To help out with sponsorship or for more information check out the Facebook Page – Hawkes Bay Boccia.