PUPILS and teachers at Knockavoe School and Resource Centre in Strabane are celebrating after winning an inter-schools Boccia competition.
The competition organised in Omagh to bring children from different backgrounds and abilities together has been hailed a huge success.
Boccia is a target ball sport, similar in principle to bowls but is played indoors with soft leather balls. It is played at Paralympic level, and is suitable for people of all fitness levels and abilities.
Key Stage Three pupils from 20 mainstream and schools for people with learning difficulties in Strabane, Omagh and counties Derry and Fermanagh competed in the ‘Broadening Horizons Boccia Championship’ organised by PE teachers Paul O’Gara and Finnian Moriarity from Arvalee School and Resource Centre and the Christian Brothers School in Omagh. The event was sponsored by McBride Retail Group who provided all the participants with water and a goodie bag full of snacks.
Knockavoe teacher Lynn Gibson said, “Eleven children from the school, aged from 11 to 13, took part. They practised for a number of weeks and it was a fantastic achievement to win it, led by Keelen Sharkey who had a great tournament.
“They really enjoyed taking part and interacting with pupils from other schools. It was a great way to develop social skills and everyone had a wonderful time.”
As well as being thrilled to claim the number one spot, Ms Gibson explained that the competition was a very valuable experience for the young people.
She added, “They were ecstatic to get through to the final. The whole event was a great outlet for their development.”
During terms one and two the KS3 pupils have been participating in shared PE lessons, allowing them to develop relationships, communication, leadership, teamwork and organisational skills.
In January the pupils achieved a Boccia Leadership Award from Disability Sport Northern Ireland (DSNI). They learned about the history and background of Boccia, rules, refereeing skills, coaching activities and strategies, court layout, inclusive equipment and how to organise a competition.
Organiser Paul O’Gara from Arvalee School added, “It was amazing to see the pupils working together. It shows we can all come together as we live in one society.
“It has fired us to continue with the initiative next year and do similar projects.”