This afternoon I decided to do a little experiment. I managed to watch some of the boccia from Tokyo. The truth is, I vaguely remember playing it a couple of times at school, but that’s about it. Seeing it played so well by Team GB in Tokyo, however, including by Beth Moulam, aroused my curiosity: would I be any good at it? More to the point, how easily could I get hold of a set of boccia balls? That seemed to me a good way to see how popular or mainstream disability sport is becoming.
There are a couple of fairly large sports shops in Woolwich and Greenwich. I was curious to see whether any of them would sell Boccia balls, or indeed would have heard of the sport. To find the answer, I trundled that way this afternoon. To be honest I didn’t hold out much hope, but thought it worth the outing.
First I tried in Sports Direct in Woolwich, only to find it mainly sold fashionable menswear, with nothing to do with sports. Then, after a brief look around, I caught the bus to Greenwich. There are a few large shops on the peninsular, including a larger Sports Direct shop, which I thought would have a good chance of stocking the specialist equipment I was looking for. Predictably though, I didn’t have any luck there either. I asked one of the assistants, who suggested I look in Argos – frankly I don’t think she had even heard of Boccia.
In the end I returned home empty handed. Still, I think it was worth looking. Hopefully, disability sport will continue to become more and more mainstream and popular, so that soon high street shops will sell things like boccia balls. In a way, then, I think this is quite a good litmus test of the status of disability sport, and with it disability culture in general.