The first ever World Boccia Africa Regional Championships took place in Ekurhuleni at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference centre. This first continental championship gave boccia players the opportunity to win an African title, but also allowed them to qualify for the World Boccia Championships that are scheduled to take place in December.
Several South African boccia players secured medals in the championship. Elanza Jordaan won gold in the Women BC3 class, Brett Dakin won the BC2 men’s title with teammate and friend Liakath Aziz taking silver while Bukho Monakali and Siphiwo Papu claimed a South African one-two in the men’s BC 4 class.
Nadia Ihirri of Morocco won BC1 women’s title while South Africa’s Seipati Majoe took silver. Ihirri was joined on the top step of the podium by countryman Mohammed Bouihlaben (BC1 Male). Bouihlaben ended ahead of South Africa’s Kabemba Tshilunga (silver) and Lefi Kgosimolau (bronze).
Jordaan paired up with Karabo Morapedi to win gold as did BC 4 men’s individual gold medallist, Bukho Monakali alongside Naledi Nhlapo. The BC1/2 team title went to South Africa after Liakath Aziz, Brett Dakin and Seipati Majoe beat Morocco 11-1 and Egypt 4-3. Morocco’s team of Mohammed Bouihlaben, Nadia Ihirri and Imad Ouajih took silver after they beat Egypt 9-0 in the final round.
South Africa won the event with six gold medals while Morocco and Egypt returned home with two gold medals each. World Boccia board member and LOC member, Elsa Matthee says: “The feedback from everyone is that they enjoyed the championships; and, especially, because South Africa did well, I am satisfied. Now we just have to get support for our medallists to go to the World championships in December in Brazil.”
Pam Johnston of Boccia England is the head referee for the competition and said: “It is an honour to be here and it’s exciting that the sport is developing on the continent.” She added: “For many this is a steep learning curve, but everyone is so willing to learn and increase their knowledge of the boccia rules and how they have to be implemented at an international level.”
The competition is a chance for the game to grow and Johnston agrees: “Resources are needed so that countries can keep up to date with rule changes and global standards. Global knowledge sharing would really benefit the growth of the game on the continent. We did give some training before we began but it also highlighted the need for more international exposure for the technical officials.”
To relive some of the matches of the event, click on the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSN–O0I_VFzGvdEynNDd2w