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National boccia champion from Pinner to join new talent squad

Pinner boccia star Reshad Saraj has taken a significant step towards achieving his dream of becoming a world-class player as he joins Boccia UK’s inaugural Talent Transition Squad.

The Pinner resident is the English National Champion

The 30-year-old athlete from Pinner has already established himself as a prominent figure in the domestic circuit of the Paralympic sport of boccia, and this new opportunity will provide him with increased exposure to international competitions and the chance to train alongside Great Britain’s elite players.

Boccia, similar to boules, involves players throwing, rolling, or kicking coloured balls towards a white target ball known as the jack. The sport tests muscle control, strategy, and accuracy, and participants can compete individually, in pairs, or as a team of three over a specified number of ends. Each side has six balls, either red or blue, in each end, aiming to accumulate points throughout the match.

Reshad Saraj discovered boccia while watching the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, which ignited his passion for the sport. Last year, he represented Boccia UK at international events and secured a bronze medal at the Poznan Challenger. Despite facing challenges along the way, Saraj expressed his pride in persevering and credited his support team for their incredible assistance.

Saraj, the current English national champion, enthusiastically expressed his anticipation for joining the Talent Transition Squad, stating his excitement to learn, gain experience, and explore his potential within the sport. The program, spearheaded by Boccia UK and supported by Scottish Disability Sport, aims to bridge the gap between domestic players and those supported by the World Class Performance program. This initiative seeks to facilitate the transition of talented individuals into international competition, addressing the historical difficulties faced by aspiring athletes.

Pinner boccia star is welcomed to Talent Squad

Liz Fisher, the Head of Performance Pathway at Boccia UK, expressed her delight in welcoming Saraj to the Talent Transition Squad, she said: “The Talent Transition Squad aims to bridge the gap between players competing domestically and the athletes that are supported by the World Class Performance Programme. In the past, it’s perhaps been quite difficult to break through from domestic levels into international competition. And that’s what we want to change and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Reshad onto the programme.”

The establishment of the Talent Transition Squad comes at a time when Boccia is experiencing global growth and evolution. In the upcoming Paralympic Games in Paris, male and female players will compete separately in individual events for the first time, expanding the number of available medals.

Great Britain has been making significant strides in the sport, evident from their impressive performance at the Zagreb Challenger, where Boccia UK topped the medal table. Additionally, they secured a gold and three bronze medals at the Montreal World Cup, demonstrating their capability of achieving world-class success across various classifications.

Performance Director Greg Baker said: “Recent tournaments have proved that Britain is capable of being a number one nation in the world. But to be the very best, we need to be honing the talents of those athletes who, like Reshad, might not be at World Class Performance squad level just yet but are showing huge potential.”

With his inclusion in the Talent Transition Squad, Reshad Saraj is set to embark on a new chapter in his Boccia career, furthering his aspirations of reaching the pinnacle of the sport and cementing his status as a world-class player.

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