Residents of a Caernarfon care home are dreaming of gold medals as they learn to play an exciting Paralympic sport.
Boccia has arrived at the Bryn Seiont Newydd care home on the outskirts of the town after proving to be a big hit at the Rio games.
The target ball game which is similar to bowls was originally devised for athletes with disabilities that have a major impact on motor skills.
A session was organised for the Bryn Seiont residents by admin assistant Matt Palamarczuk, who works for the Pendine Park care organisation and is also a qualified paralympic boccia coach.
He became a boccia fan after watching it at the 2012 London Paralympic Games during which he was proud to see that Team GB lifted a silver and a bronze medal.
Earlier this year Matt set up a league of boccia teams at the Pendine Park’s care homes in Wrexham which is fast becoming a hub of the game in North Wales.
With Swansea’s David Smith beating Holland’s Daniel Perez to win individual boccia gold in the Rio, there has never been a better time to learn how to play the game.
Similar to bowls, players take it in turns, while sitting in wheelchairs or lounge chairs, to throw soft leather bowls that must land as close to the white jack ball as possible with points awarded for each ball the winner has closest to the jack.
As well Matt, several residents of Pendine Park’s Highfield House care home in Wrexham had a trip out to Caernarfon to socialise and play a few friendly ends of the game.
Bryn Seiont Newydd resident Millicent Foster really enjoyed her introduction to the paralympic sport.
She said: “I like playing boccia, it’s a good game. And it’s nice to meet the people who have come over from Wrexham. It’s nice to be able to socialise with new friends.”
It was a sentiment echoed by the centre’s resident artist and enrichment co-ordinator, Nia Lloyd-Roberts.
She said: “Matthew is keen to set up a league including Bryn Seiont Newydd and the Wrexham-based care homes, and we would certainly support him.
“The game helps with mobility and focus and I have to say residents take games very seriously and there is a real edge to some matches. They really enjoy it and some can become very competitive.
“And of course it’s a game we can play indoors so it’s available to residents all year around.”
According to Matt, he is keen for all Pendine Park residents to have the chance to play the game.
He said: “It’s an exciting game and it doesn’t matter if you are in a wheelchair or have other disabilities. It gives people an interest.”
Former plumber Steve Ferrier, now a resident of Highfield House, in Wrexham, suffered a heart attack more than three years ago and lost the use of his right leg and has limited use of his arms.
He said: “I have to use a motorised wheelchair to get about. It’s good to have a trip out of Pendine Park at Wrexham and to meet new friends.
“I always enjoy playing boccia it can get a bit tense and no two games are the same. Some people are better players than others and some seem to improve really quickly once they get the hang of it.”
He added: “Some games I win and then the next one I might get thrashed. I like practical things so to be able to pay a game from my chair is brilliant.”
Highfield House enrichment co-ordinator Chris Lewis said: “We came over from Wrexham by mini-bus and Highfield House residents have had a great day out.
“Boccia is a sociable game that anyone can play, whatever their disability. It’s also a good opportunity to mix with residents of Bryn Seiont Newydd and make new friends.