Awards focus on disabled people

ONE thing that sets the Murray and Roberts Jack Cheetham and the 2010 Murray and Roberts Letsema Awards is their focus on the less popular but -important sporting codes, such as boccia.

These awards are named after Jack Cheetham, a former director of Murray and Roberts and captain of the South African cricket team in the 1950s. They recognise his character and ideals, and contribution to the development of sport in South Africa.

Sports development projects in the able-bodied category are recognised, acknowledged and rewarded through the Jack Cheetham Award, while the Letsema Award targets sports projects for people with disabilities.

Boccia is a traditional recreational sport for physically-disabled, wheelchair-bound athletes.

While it is similar to bocce - a ball sport related to boules, bowls and pétanque - boccia is designed to be played by people with cerebral palsy, as well as athletes with other severe disabilities affecting motor skills.

Boccia, which is governed by the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association, became a Paralympic sport in 1984 and is being played in more than 50 countries.

Boccia is played on a wide, flat and smooth surface court by individuals, pairs, or teams of three - of mixed gender. Players throw red or blue leather balls to a white target ball, or jack. As a rule, the jack is thrown first, then the first two regular balls are played.

Interestingly, the balls can be moved with hands, feet, or, if the competitor's disability is severe, with a "helping" device such as a ramp, and - at the end of each round, or end - the referee measures the distance of the balls closest to the jack, and awards points accordingly; meaning that, the team or player with the highest number of points at the end of play is the winner.

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