Last Wednesday, Wanderers midfielder Jason Lowe headed down to Bolton Arena to visit and take part in the Ability Counts Schools Competition.
Boccia, a Paralympic Sport since 1984, is played seated with the aim being to propel your coloured balls on court as close as possible to the white Jack Ball. Balls can be thrown, kicked or rolled down a ramp with each Team trying to outwit their opponents.
The event attracted 32 teams from 25 different schools/establishments, with over 130 players of varying special educational needs and/or disabilities competing in Boccia. The event is also affiliated to Boccia Englands’ National Schools League, enabling both winning teams to go forward to represent Bolton in the County event, and hopefully beyond.
To top off the event, Bolton Wanderers captain Jason Lowe was in attendance to show his support to the event, where he met the competitors, had photos with the schools and even tried his hand at boccia as well.
Speaking on the day Lowe said “They were excellent – I took them on in the first game and then I got it handed to me in the second one,”
“The game was great fun, I really enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard much about boccia but the main thing is that the kids seem to love playing it and what a great event – they’re laughing and smiling, it’s what it’s all about.
“We know what great work the Community Trust do promoting the football club around the town, help youngsters enjoy and learn about sport and all the benefits it brings. Bolton Arena is a great facility and it’s been so relaxed, we’ve had a lovely walk around. I think some of the staff are more competitive than the kids – they just enjoy the game.
“I think I’ll stick to football. I’m not quite up to some of the standards I saw here so maybe I need a bit more practice before I take it up full time.”
Bolton is the first Borough in Greater Manchester to link with Panathlon, and through the newly developed partnership, alongside the School Games Organisers. The Community Trust are now jointly delivering 11 different inclusive events for school aged pupils in Bolton this academic year. The hope is to locally raise the profile of a variety of Inclusive Sports and inspire children to play sport both recreationally and competitively.
Disability Development Officer Debbie Davies had this to say on the event
“To hear from the Winning Teams Teacher at Mount St Joseph, Yu-Gi-Oh Crew that the players had phoned their Mums in elation when they heard they’d qualified for the Semi-finals, sums up the passion and competitive spirit in the room today. The event provides all children with the opportunity to represent their School in a team based sport, and be the best they can be. Huge thanks must go to the fantastic newly trained Young Officials from Thornleigh Salesian College whose confidence on court and ability to officiate the games in an encouraging manner was a credit, and to Jason Lowe for coming down to support the event, experience the sport first-hand on court and interact with all players. It was a joy to see! We wish St James Jets and Yu-Gi-Oh Crew the best of luck in representing Bolton in the next stage of this Competition“