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Wakefield care home wins boccia sports tournament (even though no one had played the game before!)

Adults with learning disabilities at Ardsley House care home in Wakefield are celebrating after scooping top prize in the annual boccia tournament, held as part of Leeds’ celebrations for Learning Disability Week.

Winning was a remarkable achievement for the five-strong team of players aged 30 to 61 who have a range of disabilities from Down's Syndrome to Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects organ systems. None had even played boccia - a precision ball game - before the tournament began. Team members taught themselves as they progressed through the competition and shared their new skills with each other. 

The residents who took part were delighted with their success, and are already looking forward to competing in next year's competition. Participating helped them to develop their team skills, and boccia matches are now played regularly at Ardsley. The winners are encouraging others in the home to take up the sport.

The team competed in the final at Middleton Leisure Centre in Leeds. It was a closely fought contest and they won on a 'bowl off', the equivalent of a penalty shoot-out in footballing terms.

Boccia, a Paralympic sport since 1984, is a bowling game where competitors aim to shoot the closest they can to the 'jack'. Its popularity is soaring and it is now enjoyed by people across the globe with a wide spectrum of disabilities.

The boccia tournament was part of a programme of events in the Leeds area to celebrate the national Learning Disability Week.

Pat Shea, home manager said: "Everyone we support at Ardsley House was delighted with their win and the trophy now has pride of place in the lounge of Ardsley House. This was such an achievement as everyone was new to the sport. We took part in various events as part of Leeds Learning Disability Week and everyone had a fabulous week meeting new people and making new friends. Everyone is looking forward to defending their title next year."

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