BRIGHTON’S vivacious Lily Kelly, 17, has a degenerative muscular condition but that hasn’t prevented her from reaching for her life’s goals.
When she was still in primary school, Kevin Faulkner, from the Paraquad Association, introduced her to playing Boccia and since then, she hasn’t looked back.
She has competed in four national titles and one Victorian title. She has several medals in her classification, ramp player (BC3), from the competitions, including gold for best junior single player 2013 and 2014.
“I’d been looking for a sport for ages that I could actually do and then Boccia came along and I can do it, and I love doing it,” Lily said.
Boccia is played in more than 50 countries around the world and it became a Paralympics sport in the 1980s. It’s a mix between lawn bowls and bocce and the aim is to get as close to the white ball or jack as possible. People with similar disabilities compete against each other and those who can’t throw the ball like Lily use a ramp.
“It’s not just aiming up for the white ball, you don’t really know what your competitor is going to do next shot, so it’s always good to get your good shot in first.
She has someone helping her move the ramp, but they can’t help aim.
“The ramp assistant has to face, has to have their back to the game at all times they cannot ask the athlete any questions, what it comes down to is the athlete is in control,” Kevin Faulkner said.
Lily’s ramp assistant is her dad Mark.
“Every time the ball goes down the ramp you just want to go and have a look but you’re not allowed to look, not allowed to speak,” Mark said.
Lily’s done pretty well in the sport since taking up Boccia two years ago. She was soon spotted by the Australian Paralympics Committee and put in a training program. But her sights are firmly on Brazil for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games in 2016.
“I would like to go to the Rio Games, but more competition before that happens,” Lily said.
“From when she started playing to now, her understanding of the game, strategically and competitively, she’s got that glint in her eye when she’s playing that she’s here to win and do her best,” Kevin said.
He hopes to see Boccia played by more children, who can’t take part in other sports. He’s been going around to schools showing them how to play the game.
“My goal is just basically to give people with disabilities the opportunity to play sport, and if I find a person who goes on to be a Paralympian then even better.”
On November 14 2015, the first ever Tasmanian Boccia Titles will be held at the Moonah Sports Stadium. People from throughout Tasmania, and interstate will be competing in different classifications for the title. It should be a great event so go along and support our young athletes like Lily.