Norwood Green Junior School have retained Panathlon’s south of England deaf boccia championship after a tense contest at Osterley Leisure Centre in Hounslow.

The team of students from Southall in west London saw off competition from four other schools across London and south east in a close-fought competition, edging out St Albans’ Heathlands School in the final to retain their title.

The two 2014 trophy winners – Heathlands won the plate competition last year – were joined by newcomers Highworth Combined School from Buckinghamshire and Rushy Meadow School in Sutton – who lost a tight semi-final to Heathlands – along with Camden’s Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, as 39 students competed in the double elimination event.

“Our children absolutely loved today, said Anne Pereira of Highworth School. “From the teachers’ perspective it was brilliant; great to see children interact with deaf children from other schools and really well organised.

“The deaf leaders that had been trained up were fantastic with our youngsters and, to cap it all off, we’re going home with a trophy.”

Highworth’s two teams saw off strong competition from Frank Barnes School in the group stages to make the plate final an intra-school affair and ensure the trophy returned to High Wycombe.

The competition was hard fought, but the day also served as a fantastic opportunity for a number of deaf units and schools to come together and socialise.

“We’ve had a brilliant day” said Louise Hurford, teacher at Rushy Meadow School. “Our students are sat happily communicating with the other schools and it’s so nice to see. They’ve constantly had smiles on their faces!”

Prior to the competition day, Panathlon had visited Oak Lodge Deaf School in Wandsworth to deliver a boccia leaders course to six deaf students, giving them a sound understanding of the rules and some insight into tactics at higher-level boccia.

After successfully completing the training, the students were put well and truly through their paces at the finals, overcoming the tough task of officiating a total of 24 boccia matches in just two hours.

“The students have enjoyed today and I think they’ve gained a lot from the training,” said Holly Black, Teacher at Oak Lodge School. “They don’t often officiate in external competitions, and so it will offer a fantastic practical experience to build on the leadership skills they already have.”

Panathlon would like to thank our leaders for making the day run smoothly and, of course, our sponsors – the Ovingdean Hall Foundation and City Bridge Trust – for making the event happen.

Ovingdean Hall Foundation  CITY BRIDGE TRUST