The Montreal BISFed World Open, part of the 35th Défi sportif AlterGo, has never been as important as it is this year, with 18 countries participating—including five of the planet’s best.

Yet despite this marquee event, boccia remains a little-known sport. Boccia balls and jacks appear to belong instead to curling or traditional French pétanque. However, the strategy and throws required to win boccia matches will convince even the most hardened skeptic to love this unique sport.

“It’s the Paralympic sport that’s tailor-made for those facing the most significant handicaps. These aren’t athletes that can play wheelchair basketball or rugby, this is for a specific type of athlete,” explains Team Canada Head Coach Mario Delisle, who is leading a team of 11 players in this World Open.

Fall for boccia!

Who make the best athletes? “What we assess first is arm length, and their degree of spasticity, particularly in those who have cerebral palsy,” explains Delisle. The critical factor in boccia isn’t necessarily physical prowess, but rather game planning and strategy. “When you consider the technical elements that are required—from movement to the equipment itself, there are a lot of details at play. So, it really takes a certain kind of athlete for boccia,” he adds. “Because of that, sometimes athletes are a bit hesitant, but, they quickly fall in love with the game.”

National Team member Iulian Ciobanu is no stranger to the above phenomenon, “It’s boccia that fell in love with me first, then I fell in love with it!” recounts the Montreal native, who discovered the sport four years ago through Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

“It’s a sport that’s a bit contrary to my personality, so, in a way, just like in a relationship, we complete each other!” jokes Ciobanu, who was a member of Team Canada at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

In order to aim and throw well, calm and concentration are critical. “I’m a bit impulsive by nature, so boccia has helped me learn how to better manage my emotions, which in turn has made me a better boccia player.”

The previous two days have been dedicated to individual tournament preliminary rounds, held at the Maurice-Richard Arena, with medallists determined April 26. Doubles competitions will be held April 27 and 28, 2018.

 À propos de la médaille commémorative de l’anniversaire du Sénat du Canada

La médaille souligne le 150e anniversaire de la première séance du Sénat, qui a eu lieu le 6 novembre 1867. Elle est décernée aux Canadiens et Canadiennes ou aux résidents permanents et résidentes permanentes pour leur contribution active à faire de leurs communautés des endroits où il fait mieux vivre.

Cette médaille a été conçue par le lieutenant-colonel Carl Gauthier, directeur, Distinctions honorifiques et reconnaissance, au ministère de la Défense nationale. L’avers de la médaille porte l’emblème du Sénat et l’envers illustre la Chambre du Sénat. Un espace est prévu pour inscrire le nom du récipiendaire.