Traditional courts are generally made of wood and require a dedicated playing area, while Packabocce courts are inflatable and easy to take anywhere. This has made the sport much more accessible to schools and social leagues, along with streamlining the set up process at major events.
Special Olympics Ireland Sport Development Manager Elaine Twomey said it was “tremendous” to see Packaworld’s courts in use for the first time at the University of Limerick’s world class facility, The Arena.
“Everyone was impressed with the reduced set up time and ease of movement of the courts,” Ms Twomey said.
“The athletes enjoyed playing on them and the coaches were all commenting positively.”
Packabocce has become the court of choice for many international bocce competitions, including Special Olympics Ireland.
“We now have 26 courts in use across the five regions, thanks to a government grant which allowed us to invest in the sport of bocce.
“Since regions have started using them, there is keen interest among the local clubs, as they see them as a great option –because they require little or no storage, are easy to transport, and affordable.”
Bocce has become increasingly popular in Ireland, with approximately 2,000 Special Olympics athletes regularly playing the game.
Packaworld Chief Executive Peter Roberts said he is delighted that Packabocce courts were having such a positive impact on growing the sport in Ireland.
“The Special Olympics Ireland bocce ball programme has been exceptional in promoting the sport, encouraging new athletes to get involved, and making events even more accessible to athletes.
“It’s humbling to know that our portable bocce ball courts are being held in high regard by such a fantastic cause and sport, where anyone, no matter your ability or age, can compete.
“The story of bocce’s rise in Ireland is admirable, and long may it continue to bring the joy of sport to more people.”
Mr Roberts said Special Olympics’ decision to temporarily suspend its sports programmes in Ireland and many other countries due to the COVID-19 outbreak was a “wise move” to protect the wellbeing of athletes. He expected bocce ball to continue to grow in popularity once the current pandemic situation was resolved.
Bocce is currently the third most popular Special Olympics sport globally, with more than 440,000 people playing in 2018.
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