SMILE Boccia Open 2017 – A review from Lucy

On Sunday 3rd September the 2017 SMILE Boccia Open was held at Gateshead Leisure Centre. For one of the competitors, Lucy, this was her first competition. Read more about her experiences below.

Tell us a little bit about you?
My name is Lucy, I am 30 years old and I was born with a disability called Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. 
When did you start playing boccia? 
I started playing boccia when I was at school in my teens, we played quite competitively and I even went to Liverpool to take part in a regional competition. When I got to 16 and left school I didn’t play anymore. Then in December 2016 I met Jenni at a disability fayre at Gateshead leisure centre. Jenni told me about some boccia sessions in Gateshead through Smile Through Sport which I started going to in March.
Why did you start playing boccia?
I started playing boccia because it is a sport that I know quite well and enjoy doing. I had too much time on my hands, which made me very anxious, so starting boccia again has given me something to do so I don’t have to much time to think. I also wanted to meet new people and make friends. 
Where you nervous entering the open?
I was really looking forward to the open, but I am not going to lie I was quite nervous as well. But the nerves didn’t last long once I got into it. I have made a good friend in boccia and she was there too, so that really helped. I would also like to say that Jenni knows I get anxious and she greeted me on the day and made me feel much more relaxed.
What was the atmosphere like at the open?
The atmosphere was very welcoming and relaxed, everyone was very friendly and supportive of each other. But there was a bit of friendly competitiveness to it as well. 
How did you do at the open?
I don’t like to admit it, but I didn’t win any of my games. But the way I was looking at it is I was there to have fun, which I did and in the end it is the taking part that matters not so much the winning. However I can’t complain because I still came away will a medal and a trophy for “most improved throughout the day” so I must have done something right.
What was your favourite part about the open?
I didn’t really have a favourite part to be honest, it was a great day all round. 
What was your least favourite part about the open?
The Boccia balls were very soft which made it that little bit harder to get them where you wanted them. 
Would you do it again?
I would definitely do it all over again, as soon as I came away the first thing I said was I really hope it happens again next year. 
Anything else you want to say?
For me the sessions are not just about the boccia. I feel because of boccia I have become less anxious and I think more confident. And also I have made new friends. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of staff from Smile Through Sport who I have met.