Local Pinner resident Reshad Saraj has regained the Boccia England Champion title at a hard-won competition held at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield over the weekend of 19th -20th May.
Reshad went into the competition knowing the challenges he was facing with the current Boccia England Champion competing along with the Boccia UK Champion and no less than three current or past Team Boccia UK players including Paralympic medal winners.
During the Group stages Reshad had a challenging 4 matches to play in day one. Winning all but one of the matches Reshad went into Day 2 with a good chance of moving into the semi-finals but not yet guaranteed.
His last match in the Group was against the current Boccia England Champion, previous Team Boccia UK member and past Paralympic medal winner, a match he had to win to guarantee winning the Group and moving on to the semi-finals. Reshad delivered, comprehensively beating his opponent, winning all 4 Ends in the match with a final score of 9:0.
Reshad then faced an existing Team Boccia UK player and yet another previous Paralympic medal winner and, after a tough match, overcame him with a score of 4:2 gaining a well-deserved place in the final.
Facing the current Boccia UK Champion, the match was extremely tense but Reshad stayed focussed and prevailed with a score of 5:1 winning the coveted title of Boccia England Champion 17/18 and qualifying for the Boccia UK Championship finals being held in Scotland in June.
Reshad said: “This was a very tough weekend, very challenging as you would expect from such high level performers but our preparation for this competition both physically and mentally paid off.”
He continued: “My support team developed the competition nutrition plan and my PA ensured I stuck to it! My Coach planned the pre and post warm up/cool down activities as well as the overall strategy and ever-evolving tactical plan based on analysis of my performance in each match and of course my Mum was there to support me every day!”
Boccia is perhaps the earliest game ever played by mankind, with roots in ancient Greece and Egypt.
One of the most famous games of boccia was played by Sir Francis Drake and Lord Howard in Plymouth, England, in 1588. They played whilst waiting for the arrival of the Spanish Armada and Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing the game before sailing out to defeat the enemy.
The modern sport of Boccia was initially designed for people with cerebral palsy. It is now played by people who have any kind of neurological impairment that affects their motor function and also by those with other specifically defined disabilities.
Boccia made its Paralympic debut in 1984, when the Games were held in New York, USA. During those Games, a total of 19 athletes (10 male and nine female) represented five different countries (Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, Portugal and the USA).
Today the sport is practiced in more than 50 countries worldwide. These countries are all registered as members of the Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed), which is the official governing body of the sport.
In the recent Rio De Janeiro Paralympics, Team GB member David Smith won an individual gold medal in the Boccia BC1 classification
Further information including the qualifying criteria for inclusion in the sport, is available from the BISFed website: www.bisfed.com, the Boccia Team England website: www.bocciaengland.org.uk or the Boccia Team GB website: www.gb-boccia.org