Boccia is a fast growing Paralympic sport aimed at people with disorders of the central nervous system, such as tetraplegia, who are physically unable to compete in other disciplines, said Paulina Malinowska-Kowalczyk, secretary-general of the Polish Paralympic Committee.
Similar to the French game of pétanque, boccia is played with leather balls on an indoor, smooth surface. The aim is to throw the balls as close as possible to a white target ball, or jack.
There are events for individuals, pairs and teams of three, while those with the most severe disabilities can use special ramps and the help of personal assistants, Malinowska-Kowalczyk added.
Eyeing medals for Poland
After meticulous preparation, the four-strong Polish team, led by head coach Mieczysław Nowak, has high hopes for the European championships, which are taking place in Seville's Centro Deportivo San Pablo, the Polish Paralympic Committee said.
Competition is fierce, with over 130 contestants from 23 countries, yet Polish boccia players know the event offers a pathway to next year's world championships in Rio de Janeiro, with the next Paralympics, in Paris in 2024, also on the horizon, officials told the media.
The event in Seville, Spain has attracted more than 130 contestants from 23 countries, according to the Polish Paralympic Committee. Photo: Paulina Malinowska-Kowalczyk/Polish Paralympic Committee
"Obviously, the goal is to win a medal in Seville," said leading player Edyta Owczarz, who only narrowly missed on qualifying for the Tokyo Paralympics.
"I am well-prepared, I have the necessary skills and my emotional awareness is also a strength - although I respect every opponent," she added.
The mood in the Polish team is buoyant as the championships in Spain get into full swing, the Polish Paralympic Committee's Malinowska-Kowalczyk reported.
The team's trip to Seville has been co-financed by Poland's Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport, officials also said.