Appeal helps nurture Paralympic hopefuls

The Sheffield Smashers boccia group
The Sheffield Smashers boccia group
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A SPORTING club in Sheffield hopes to nurture the next generation of Paralympic athletes following a donation from a city charity.

The Sheffield Smashers group runs weekly boccia sessions at Don Valley Stadium for disabled people aged between eight and 25 – and now even more youngsters will be able to get involved after Help A Child Have A Chance presented the club with a grant to buy new equipment.

The money will be invested in specialist equipment, including boccia balls and ramps, and it will also fund a coaching course for four volunteers.

Karen Codling, chair of the Sheffield Smashers, said the club members were ‘so grateful’ for the donation, part of the good cause’s 12 Days of Christmas appeal, in association with The Star.

“The charity has really shown an interest in our club, coming to watch the youngsters play and finding out more about how they can benefit from the funding,” she said.

“Boccia equipment is very specialist and therefore very expensive. It’s not like buying kit for mainstream sports like football and rugby where you can get everything you need from a cheap, high street sports shop.”

The group started with just four youngsters playing at Hillsborough Pavilion and now welcomes more than 20 players at Don Valley Stadium every Thursday.

Sheffield Smashers were set up by Karen, along with her niece, sporting coach Faye Ruddleston, and Mike Elliott, chairman of Within Reach.

Karen said: “The group has gone from strength to strength. The sessions really help improve communication and many great friendships have been formed.”

Funding has been secured for this year from Sheffield law firm Irwin Mitchell and a boccia league is also set to be launched.

Boccia is a target ball sport belonging to the same family as petanque and bowls.

The 12 Days of Christmas appeal offered needy young people across the region the chance to receive a slice of £10,000.

Nominations flooded in following an appeal and the winners are now being revealed.

For more information, or to support the charity, email info@helpachildhaveachance.co.uk or www.helpachildhaveachance.co.uk. New members should email karen.codling@irwinmitchell.com for further information.