Will Hipwell – My Boccia Story
I first started playing boccia at recreational level after school on Monday evenings at a sports club for people with disabilities called the Upside Down Club. I found that I really enjoyed the sport. Unfortunately, the club had to stop due to a shortage of people to run it and help out at the sessions. This meant that opportunities to play boccia were limited and I didn’t play again for several years. Whilst at university I went to Sheffield to support a friend who was competing in the National Boccia Championships. Seeing how well run and how competitive the matches were I was keen to take up boccia again.
After graduating from University, I searched for boccia clubs on the Internet and found one that was local to me called Camboccia. I joined the club and found that I really enjoyed playing in the local league matches. I have a competitive nature and was eager to enter some regional tournaments and after some success managed to qualify for the National Championships.
After a few years I was invited to join Boccia England’s talent program, which meant that I was able to gain extra coaching by attending the talent squad training camps. After two years in the talent program I was lucky enough to be selected for the Lions Squad, which is a reserve team for the England Boccia Squad. In November 2014 I was selected to represent England at an International Competition in Poland, which was a very proud moment for me. Whilst I didn’t get past the group stages, the experience was still a huge benefit to my boccia career.
In December last year I had the chance to attend an assessment day for the Great Britain squad. I was honored just to have been asked and came away from the day feeling that I’d given a good account of myself. The feedback that I got was positive and I was given the opportunity to train with the squad, which I accepted. I feel privileged every time I put on my GB Boccia kit. Being in full time employment has meant that it’s been a bit of a challenge to fit in all the boccia training that comes with being in the squad. I’d like to thank my employers, Kier for being so supportive and allowing me to take up this fantastic opportunity.
Having had a boccia taster session at school Hannah came home saying how much she enjoyed it. Hannah's parents looked around to see if there were any local clubs in the area and discovered that two people near Cambridge were trying to set one up! The whole family got involved and Camboccia was created and still runs now 7 years later in 2 locations. Hannah has made lots of friends, feels part of the community, competed in local, regional and national competitions. But more importantly loves to play a sport where she feels part of a team and has fun in a well supported, friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
My Boccia Journey
the 2012 legacy continues
In September 2012 I had tickets to the London Paralympics. I had a day pass which let you into four events, one was boccia. I’d never heard of this so googled it before we went and said to my parents “I could do that” then after seeing it live I repeated it with greater emphasis “I really could do that”.
Upon returning home I promptly googled boccia clubs at the time Camboccia appeared to be the only club near me (I live in Stamford, near Peterborough). Mum found whiffs of a club starting in Peterborough. I started there and soon became addicted to boccia practicing for an hour-
However, I visited Camboccia on a few occasions and loved it also. In May 2013 when I was becoming competitive I had a choice of which club to register with however, the coach at Peterborough made it easy for me by suggesting I register with Camboccia as he wasn’t having much luck registering Peterborough as a club. So I registered at Camboccia and rarely looked back.
In the 2013-
Then at the start of the 2015 season I expressed an interest in leading some sessions (having gained a boccia leader’s award with Peterborough Boccia Club). I discovered a love of session leading that rifled my love of playing so began to lead more and more sessions as I gained in confidence.
I shall forever remain grateful to Peterborough Boccia Club for kindling my enthusiasm for boccia and of course to Camboccia for continuing my boccia journey to be in the position where I am leading most sessions at Camboccia and have loved my entire boccia journey so far. I am just starting a new journey into boccia coaching, being mentored by a former England coach so who knows where the journey will end...