Boccia World Championships 2018: Liverpool hosts 32-nation tournament

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Boccia Championships 2018 – here's how to play.

"Playing boccia helps you get out and about and break the stereotype that you can't do sport. Boccia is for everyone."

Louis Saunders, 16, is the youngest member of the Great Britain team at the 2018 World Boccia Championships, which take place at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool between 12-18 August.

Boccia is a sport specifically designed for athletes with a disability, where two sides compete to get their balls as close to the target ball (jack) as possible.

The ball can be thrown, rolled, bounced or kicked and a ramp can be used if the player is unable to release the ball with their hands.

Juggling GCSEs with training for the Worlds

Louis Saunders, 16, is the youngest member of the Great Britain squad at the Worlds

Louis, from Bognor Regis, has had a spinal cord injury since he was three weeks old.

"The great thing about boccia is that it can be played by people with very severe disabilities," he says.

There will be seven medals up for grabs at the Worlds, in both individual and team events.

There are four different classifications, determined by the type and level of impairment of the athletes.

Louis is hoping for a medal, particularly in the team event alongside BC4 category world number one Stephen McGuire and Paralympian Evie Edwards.

"I can't wait to experience this massive event and I can take lessons I have learned here to win major competitions in years to come," says Louis.

It could be a double celebration for the schoolboy, who will also be picking up his GCSE exam results on 23 August.

"It was hard juggling my exams and the training but I got through it," he says.

"I had to be organised – do my homework and then train whenever I had time."

'It's a massive event'

Evie Edwards has featured in the World Championships once before and made her Paralympics debut at Rio 2016

Evie, 23, from Suffolk, is looking to improve on her performance from the last World Championships where she failed to progress past the group stages, although she did beat Dirceu Jose Pinto, a Brazilian four-time Paralympic champion.

She suffers from Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radius (TAR) syndrome.

"It means I have short arms and I am missing part of my knees so I can't walk either," she says.

Evie represented Great Britain at Rio 2016 and is hoping the Liverpool crowd can recreate the atmosphere she experienced in Brazil.

"Boccia is a small sport and we don't normally get big crowds but the support was the best thing about Rio, and I am hoping it will be the same in Liverpool."

Having originally been an international swimmer, Evie's legs started to deteriorate so she explored which sports she could do from her wheelchair.

Having fallen in love with boccia and worked her way through the ranks, she says the sport has helped her both physically and mentally.

"I am more able than some of people who have a more severe type of TAR syndrome – a lot of that is down to how active I am and that I play boccia," she said.

"From a social point of view, you get to be around like-minded people, there's no isolation because you're around people who are similar to you"

Come along and give it a go

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'I want to be the Roger Federer of boccia'

The championships are a ticketed-event for spectators and Boccia England, the sport's governing body, are also putting on sessions for the public to have a go.

"Once you have seen the best in the world in action you can then give it a try," says competition manager Duncan Tunbridge.

"We will have a court available with people on hand to guide you through it.

"We want to show the tactics, skill and tension and hopefully people will get invested in the game and be inspired to take it up."

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