It is with great pleasure that we report to our Members on your Federation’s activities during the past year.
As you will be aware, this has been a year of significant change with the passing of the Presidency from David Hadfield OBE to Jon Morgan OBE. David was President of World Boccia from September 2012 – March 2023 and has been widely recognised for his vision, strategic leadership, and sheer determination to create a brand-new International Sports Federation which is globally respected and viewed as a highly effective, modern, and progressive organisation. In September David was awarded the prestigious IPC Paralympic Order, a wonderful reflection of the high esteem within which he is held by our friends at the IPC. We were delighted that David was able to join us at our General Assembly in October and accept the role of Honorary Vice-President. We also thank our Honorary Vice President, Professor Joaquim Viegas, for his warm reflections of David during the Assembly.
General Assembly 2023
In October we hosted a highly successful General Assembly in Povoa de Varzim, Portugal. The hybrid event was very well supported by our Members, and we thank you for your continued support and engagement. At the General Assembly we reported on the period from January 2021 – December 2022, focussing on the performance of our organisation as we built back from the Covid pandemic, including the progress of our strategic plan, growing competition programme, healthy financial position, and progressive governance.
We confirmed our Membership has grown to 76 members and were pleased to be able to welcome new Members over the past two years, Rwanda Egypt Aruba Armenia Jamaica Kazakhstan Kosovo, Uzbekistan, and Namibia. The target in our new Strategic Plan is to have 100 Full Members by 2028.
We formally welcomed Dr Ilona Berry to World Boccia team and the Membership elected Jon Morgan to the role of President and Richard Boele to the role of Treasurer. We also confirmed and welcomed the appointment of Erinaldo Chagas to the Board of World Boccia.
We also took time to acknowledge the important work of our Athlete’s Committee which was elected during the World Boccia Championships in 2022. The Athlete’s Committee have been busy during 2023 developing their operating model and behaviours, whilst also representing the views of athletes at our Board meetings. Grigorios Polychronidis, Vice Chair of the Athlete’s Committee, attended the IPC Athletes Forum in South Korea, the first time World Boccia has been represented at this event. We thank the Chair, Daniel Michel, and the Committee for their commitment and look forward to supporting them to ensure that the voice of the athlete remains prominent within all our activity and is listened to as we move forward.
The General Assembly also provided the opportunity to deliver some specific open Member sessions on planning for the next Competition cycle during the 2025-28 quadrennial, Paris 2024, and the very encouraging progress that has been made within the Caribbean. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Joep Plesser (Chair Competitions Committee), Gustavo Cerqueira (Boccia Sport Manager Paris 2024) and Peter Hornig (President of Boccia Jamaica) for their contributions.
We would also wish to acknowledge the very kind assistance of our Portuguese Member, PCAND, who worked tirelessly during our planning and delivery of the event. We would particularly like to thank Sr. Antonia Barata (President PCAND), Ana Formiga and the PCAND team for their support.
Strategic Plan 2023 – 2028
We continue to deliver against the vision and objectives of our strategic plan making good progress against our four pillars –
- Growth: which will involve increasing our Membership; taking boccia to new geographical areas; developing boccia at grassroots level where it can have a positive impact on peoples’ health and well-being, especially in schools, and growing the game as a leisure activity everyone can enjoy, however young or old and whatever their ability.
- Sustainability: in the broadest sense, making sure that boccia has the resources and people properly trained and motivated to support our growing competition schedule; that succession plans are in place; and that we do everything we can to minimise our impact on the environment.
- Excellence: which means we will do everything we can to excel: on the field of play; in how we present our sport; and in providing opportunities for athletes to compete at the highest level.
- Good Governance: under which we commit to govern boccia in a professional and transparent way, adhering to the best principles of corporate governance and expecting all associated with the sport to behave in a spirit of fairness and high ethical standards.
We will continue to use our Regional Members meetings to update on progress and to spotlight our objectives to ensure that our strategic plan remains relevant to the needs of our sport and membership.
World Boccia Youth Championships
Portugal was the host country for the inaugural World Boccia Youth Championships. This inaugural event was highly successful, delivered with a wonderful spirit of cooperation and with so much encouragement for the 49 athletes attending, many of whom were competing in their first international event. A special mention must go to the athletes who played to a very high standard and to their coaching and support teams who prepared them so well for the Championships.
World Boccia has since received many messages of support from our Members to further develop and expand a competition framework to ensure that we continue to invest in the youth of today in order that we continue to produce the world class athletes of tomorrow.
World Boccia Sanctioned Competition Programme
This year has seen the delivery of the largest competition programme since the creation of World Boccia with 14 sanctioned events being delivered across all our regions. World Boccia’s competition programme included 5 Intercontinental Challenger Competitions; 3 World Cups; 3 Regional Championships; the World Boccia Youth Championships, the Youth Parapan American Games, the rescheduled 2022 Asian Para Games and the 2023 Parapan American Games.
In February we were boosted by the announcement that we were lifting our regulations which had been developed in response to the Covid Pandemic, a very welcome moment for all. We thank our Secretary General, Marta Mascarhenas, and Chief Medical Officer, Marcelo Patricio, for their guidance and diligence to ensure the safety of all during what has been an incredibly difficult and challenging period.
We are pleased to see the continued progress within the African region with the second Regional Championships being held in Egypt and with other development and coaching activities being delivered across the continent. We will continue to prioritise Africa as a region of high importance in terms of future sustainable development.
The growth of our competition programme is in large part due to the desire and support of our member nations to work in partnership with us. We remain indebted to all our Host Organising Committees for staging these events and particularly to their staff, officials and the wonderful volunteers for delivering our competition programme to an extremely high standard.
We would also like to recognise the invaluable support of our World Boccia Technical staff and officials who give their time so willingly and on such a regular basis. Without their commitment and the support of event partners our programme simply could not happen. A huge thank you from everyone at World Boccia and we look forward to your continued support in 2024 and beyond.
Paralympic Games Paris 2024
Preparations continue as we look ahead to Paris 2024. There have been two site visits and multiple meetings with representatives of the Host Organising Committee, and we remain confident that the Games will be athlete focussed and delivered to an extremely high standard.
We wish Gustavo Cerqueira (Boccia Sport Manager Paris 2024), Katie Ribeiro ( Boccia Technical Operation Manager Paris 2024) and the Paris team every best wish as they work tirelessly over the next 8 months as they make their final preparations for what should be a spectacular Games.
We would also like to congratulate those Members who have already secured their place for the Games. We wish you well in your training and preparation.
World Boccia also extends its best wishes to those Members who will have athletes competing for slots in the final qualifying event in Coimbra, Portugal next March.
Sanctioned Competition Programmes 2024 & 2025
Under the guidance of the World Boccia Bids Committee, the competition programme for 2024 has been released with 12 competitions (including the Paralympic Games) being confirmed thus far. This is the largest competition programme within any Games year which is particularly encouraging and reflects the continuing demand for international competition from our membership.
Bidding for the 2025 competition programme is well advanced. We encourage Members to consider bidding to host an event (details of how to bid have previously been sent to members.)
World Boccia Championships 2026
World Boccia was delighted to receive six stage one bids for the right to host the World Championships 2026. This is the highest number of bids for any edition of this prestigious event, reflecting the support and interest of our members as we build on the legacy of previous Championships and of course, most recently Rio de Janeiro 2022. We thank those Members who supported this process and recognise the efforts which went into producing their bids.
The stage two bidding process is now well advanced with site visits being undertaken to assess the bids from two remaining bidders, the Netherlands, and Korea. Both bids are excellent, and we hope to be able to announce the winning bid in February 2024.
In early 2023 we released a version of the BCMS on licence for Members to use at their own competitions. This built on the updated Boccia Competition Management System (BCMS), released in 2022, which is used at sanctioned events to manage all aspects of the competition including seeding, draws, timing and results. The BCMS also provides detailed competition information through the internet in real time.
We continue to advance our technical performance and members will be aware that we will be moving to a new platform in 2024 which will support membership and event registration (details of which have been recently sent to Members).
World Boccia Committees
Our Committees continue to do valuable work to ensure our sport remains up to date, relevant and focused on the needs of our athletes.
Some of the key matters the Committees have dealt with are:
• Competition and Rules Committee: Athlete slots for all the World Boccia competitions were allocated in accordance with the Competition System; review of the Ball Licensing process; the preparation for a review of the 25-28 quadrennial competition programme and Boccia Rules, both of which involving consultation with Members questions.
• Referees Committee: International Referees for the 14 competitions were selected and appointed; the appointment of International Referees for the Paralympic Games; the continued development of the Referees evaluation programme, updated rule clarifications and changes and the delivery of three International Referee courses in Africa, Asia and Europe and the support for newly qualified referees, mostly recently those trained in Hong Kong in December.
• Classification Committee: Classifiers were selected and appointed for all the 2023 competitions; the Committee has responded to requests for comment in connection with the IPC’s Classification Code and attended the IPC Classification conference in Egypt. The Committee have delivered four Classification Courses during World Boccia competitions (and two external) and continue to work diligently to ensure this core activity of our sport is maintained and continually improved.
• Development Committee: The Committee has delivered 7 coaching courses and additional webinars on a variety of subjects (such as Coach Development; warm-up best practice; creativity during practice.)
• Bids Committee: Has evaluated all the bids received for 2024 competitions; approved all contracts for hosting sanctioned competitions; and evaluated the six bids for the World Championships. The Committee continue to explore and develop an approach to multi-year hosting agreements.
• Anti-Doping Committee: We thank Patrick Wheeler who stood down as the Chief Medical Officer and welcome Marcelo Patricio who was appointed in early 2023. Marcelo has been very busy establishing a new Therapeutic Use Exemption procedure and leading on Anti-doping and medical issues.
• Athletes Committee: As reported, The Committee comprising of six athletes continue to provide input to the Board; and evolve their approach to ensure your athletes are represented and engaged. We would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of IPC Board member, Chelsey Gotell PLY for our Athletes Committee. Chelsey, who is passionate about the engagement of athletes, has recently delivered a workshop to the committee to support the development of their work.
We would wish to thank our Partners who continue to support the mission of World Boccia including our legal advisors, Hogan Lovells, our Marketing and Branding consultants, Giant Arc, Flooring Partner, Gerflor, Financial Services partner, Fairfax Financial Management Limited, Audit Partner, UHY Hacker Young, Insurance partner, Towergate and our key commercial sponsor, Korea Autech Carrier,
We also thank the Board and staff of the International Paralympic Committee for their support and assistance throughout the year.
We are incredibly fortunate to be able to draw on the wisdom and expertise of so many people who come together to ensure the success of World Boccia.
Our Executive Team, led by our CEO, Paul Trayner, Dr Ilona Berry, Dom Tremblay, and Gustavo Alvarim, who all work incredibly hard to ensure we can discharge our strategic plan and key objectives throughout the year and to liaise with our Members.
We also extend our thanks to our Board members who contribute so much toward the governance and strategic direction of our organisation and give up their time to attend competitions, Committee meetings and Board meetings. Also to our Advisory Board of three senior individuals in the boccia world: Professor Joaquim Viegas, Martin Lam and Sunghee Kang who are available to the Board for consultation on important matters and we thank them for their time and expertise.
We must pay tribute to our volunteers. You are the glue that binds our organisation together. To our Committee members, our Technical Officials and of course to our Members, your staff and support teams who make such a difference to the development of boccia across the world and the continuous improvement of our athletes, our player and officials’ pathways and playing infrastructure.
We are truly a global boccia family that collectively deliver amazing outcomes year on year, with the shared ambition of making ‘Boccia – the Sport for All.’
We wish you all the very best for 2024.
Jon Morgan OBE (President) and Paul Trayner (CEO)