Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed) President David Hadfield has claimed the organisation “came of age” in 2018 and declared the sport as the "fastest growing" discipline on the Paralympic Games programme in his end of year address to members.
Hadfield listed achievements including “the most exciting and spectacular Boccia World Championships ever”, growing BISFed membership and confirmation that boccia will feature at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris in the message.
“2018 was in so many ways the year in which BISFed came of age,” he said.
“Now six years old, we have established boccia as a truly global sport with a full complement of international events.”
Other achievements Hadfield listed include the implementation of an automated world ranking system, the creation of a new classification database and the roll out of a new coaching programme.
“Boccia remains the fastest-growing Paralympic sport and is also more widely practised as a leisure activity than ever before,” Hadfield added.
"During 2018 we welcomed the following new members to BISFed: Austria, Cyprus, Mongolia, Panama and Timor Leste.
“BISFed now has 74 Members and 620 athletes on our World Ranking list.
"We still aim to have 80 National Paralympic Committees as BISFed Members by the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Hadfield also announced that a four-tier competition system has now been implemented for the Tokyo 2020 competition cycle.
There will be 10 sanctioned boccia competitions each year, he said, with regional championships taking place every two years and both world regional open championships every year.
“It seems invidious to single out one event among so many great competitions during 2018, but the highlight of the competition year was the 2018 World Boccia Championships held in Liverpool, England,” Hadfield said.
“Thirty-two of our members qualified for the World Championships of whom 12 won medals.
“The entire event was televised and streamed live to the world on the internet by the BBC and by NHK in Japan.
“The quality of boccia on display was outstanding and both television viewers and spectators were treated to some extraordinary sport.”
BISFed will call for “expressions of interest” in hosting the 2022 World Championships early in the new year, Hadfield added.
“As we look forward to 2019, I am sure most athletes and members will be focusing on the short-term goal of doing well in next year’s competitions with a clear view of what is needed to qualify for the Games in Tokyo in 2020 (or perhaps in Paris in 2024),” he said.
“Whatever your plans, I wish you every success as well as health and happiness in 2019 and I look forward to seeing you at a BISFed competition soon.”
You can read Hadfield’s full address here.