For 18-year-old Matthew, our Boccia Club is a sanctuary – a place where he can feel comfortable and calm and where people accept him for who he is.
Matthew has been playing Boccia since the age of 9. He first represented Reigate and Banstead at the 2008 Surrey Youth Games and has since gone on to win 4 golds, 1 silver and Shot of the Tournament. YMCA East Surrey has been delivering Boccia at the Surrey Youth Games since 2002.
Matthew has completed his Boccia Leaders and Level 1 Referee qualification and regularly helps coach and mentor other players at the Boccia Club.
“I enjoy working as part of a team, helping others and building up my communication skills,” says Matthew. “Boccia has improved my fitness and I feel much more self-confident.”
A keen sportsman who enjoys wakeboarding, trampolining and horse riding, Matthew struggles with severe speech and language difficulties and high anxiety. Boccia Club has enabled him to deal with his speech problems in a relaxed environment while making friends and having fun.
His mother, Sarah, says: “It’s given him a focus and the confidence to talk freely among his peers. New places can be extremely stressful for Matthew, but Boccia helps him with this too. He will shortly be time keeping at the GB Boccia Championships at Surrey Sports Park and is very excited.”
“Before coming to the Club, Matthew couldn’t sit still for a couple of minutes, let alone a whole match. It has helped with his concentration as he has to sit quietly and wait for his turn. It’s also taught him to be aware and have tolerance of other people’s disabilities. Matthew has made good friends that will stay with him for a long time and this can be a rarity for special educational needs children.”
Matthew also completed an ASDAN short course in Volunteering, putting it to good use during the school holidays at our YMCA Sovereign Centre playscheme.
“At first, I found it difficult to communicate with the children at Yippee Club. But it didn’t take long before I was doing what the staff do,” he says. “I’d like to do more volunteering, but all my sport makes it hard to find the time!”
YMCA East Surrey’s Boccia Club applied for Sport England’s Clubmark and, in October 2015, passed with flying colours, becoming the only Boccia Club in England to hold this accreditation. In February 2016, the Club also achieved Boccia England’s Level 2 Accreditation.