Boccia pair face funding challenge
A pair of boccia players is determined to replicate the golden achievement of the national team crowned world champions in 2006 but is desperately short of funds to reach their goals.
Onehunga Boccia Club members Fleur Mann and Anthea Henry-Hurst are part of the eight-strong team selected for the national high performance squad.
Boccia is a Paralympic sport which combines the deadly accuracy needed in petanque with the complex tactics used in traditional outdoor and indoor bowls.
It is played for the most part by those with a physical disability.
Since its inception at the 1984 Stoke Mandeville and New York Paralympic Games it is now played in more than 50 countries worldwide.
To reach the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro – the same city that hosted New Zealand’s 2006 triumph – each athlete must contribute $1500 towards the cost of competing so they can progress through regional preliminaries to make the cut.
The first hurdle is the Asia and Oceania Boccia Championships which gets underway in October in Sydney.
Boccia New Zealand director Luke Morriss says New Zealand is ranked alongside the best teams in the world.
‘‘We need the support of New Zealanders to go for gold.
‘‘Our star players are very skil- led and have a hearteningly engaging story to tell about how the sport has benefited them, their passion towards boccia is amazing.’’
Boccia NZ has been offered television coverage and billboard advertisements to publicise the sport but sourcing equipment and people to provide video and images has been virtually impossible, Mr Morriss says.
Boccia gives disabled athletes the opportunity to pursue their dreams of competing on the world stage.
Fleur Mann is a veteran on the national boccia scene.
The 21-year-old is one of the youngest in the New Zealand squad.
Anthea Henry-Hurst has 19 international caps to her name after experiencing a quick rise to the top of the national rankings since picking up the game.
Boccia NZ need to raise $50,000 to get the team through the preliminary ranks to the Paralympics.
International competition: Onehunga Boccia Club player Anthea Henry-Hurst has 19 international caps to her name.