“Refined from an ancient Greek game...”
Comparable to the French boules game of pétanque, the aim of Boccia is to throw a set of colored balls as close to the jack as possible. The sport was refined from an ancient Greek game in Italy in the 16th century, and developed specifically for athletes with a high level of impairment. It therefore has no counterpart in the Olympic Games.
Boccia made its Paralympic Games debut at New York, 1984, and is now practiced at an elite level in 50 countries worldwide.
At the Paralympic Games men and women compete together in teams, pairs and individual events.
They are grouped in four classifications:
- BC1 comprises athletes with cerebral palsy who are able to project the ball once it is placed in their hand by an aide.
- BC2 includes athletes with cerebral palsy who have a lower level of impairment compared to BC1 athletes and who do not require an aide.
- BC3 athletes have the highest level of impairment and cannot grasp or release the ball. They therefore play with an assistant and the use of a ramp to project the ball.
- BC4 is for players who do not have cerebral palsy but have a similar functional ability to BC1 and BC2 athletes. These athletes do not compete with an aide.
Additional information and useful links
History of Boccia
History of Boccia
Spelt B-O-C-C-I-A - but pronounced “Botcha”, it’s organised worldwide by CP-ISRA. This is the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association, which was founded in 1978.
CP Sport is a national charitable organisation based in Nottingham whose aim is to provide sporting opportunities for those with cerebral palsy. Boccia was introduced into the UK in the early 1980s.
It’s thought the game originated in Greece with competitors tossing large stones at a stone target. When it came to the UK, Boccia was designed as a sport solely for those with severe cerebral palsy. It has now developed into a game played by many sections of the community - and from a purely recreational level up to the intensely competitive Paralympics. The rules of Boccia are determined by CP-ISRA and are reviewed every four years, usually just after the Paralympics.
For the elite competitors playing at international level, the Boccia world follows a four-year cycle. Each year sees a major international event, year one being the European Championships, followed by the World Championships, and then comes the World Cup and the final year of the cycle sees the Paralympics holding centre stage.
The aim of the game is to propel a set of coloured balls and position them closer to a white ‘marker’ ball than those of your opponent. This white ball is called the ‘jack’. Hence the game is similar in context to Bowls, Petanque or even French Boules.
The game can be played either individually (one v one using six balls each), in pairs (two v two using three balls each) or as a team activity (three v three using two balls each).
National Governing Body
GB Boccia Federation (GBBF)
The Great Britain Boccia Federation (GBBF) was formed in 2007 to meet the growing need for Boccia to have a co-ordinated Great Britain wide approach to the development of the elite level of the sport.
Previously Great Britain had only competed as a unified team at the Paralympic Games. The Home Countries sent separate teams to European Championships, World Championships and World Cups. These events contributed to world ranking positions and prior to 2007 Great Britain would only qualify for the Paralympic Games based on the position of the highest ranked Home Country.
Now Great Britain attends these championships and are able to send the best players from across England, Scotland and Wales in one unified team. The Home Countries continue to send representative teams to non ranking events.