Rhys Bycroft, a student from Waiapau College, is playing boccia at the New South Wales Junior Boccia Tournament in Sydney, April 10-15.
Boccia is a sport that is similar to bowls but suitable for people with disablities.
Rhys will attend a development camp, where players will train with the New South Wales Boccia squad. Three players from New Zealand will play in the tournament at the end of the training week.
Rhys father, Bruce Bycroft, will be supporting him on his trip; “My son Rhys plays boccia, mostly against his good friend Leon Prenter. There is a real shortage of players in the lower North Island, so Rhys and Leon have to travel to play in tournaments. The Cerebral Palsy Society of NZ is funding travel for Rhys to attend the development training camp and Junior Tournament, so this will be a great opportunity for Rhys.”
Helen Johnson, sport opportunity advisor at Sport Manawatu, is currently working with Bruce to build an awareness of the sport in the Manawatu.
“Training work shops have already started at one secondary school and a residential provider,” says Mrs Johnson.
“I really think that more awareness about the benefits of this sport for people with cerebral palsy will lead to building a boccia club locally,” she says.
Luke Morriss, Director of Boccia for the Cerebral Palsy Society of NZ Inc, says they will support any growth in boccia clubs.
“Boccia is a recognised Paralympics sport, leading to international competition, such as the World Boccia Champs in Ireland, August, 2011, and Paralympics, London, 2012,” he says.
Rhys and Leon both play at the Community Leisure Centre on Ferguson St, in Palmerston North, usually every fortnight.
“It would be great to develop more players and so increase the competition in this region,” says Mr Bycroft.
Anyone interested in more information on boccia can contact Sport Manawatu on (06) 357 5349 or sportmanawatu.org.nz.