Boccia England has released results from its 2020 survey ©Boccia England

Boccia England has released results of its 2020 survey which the governing body says demonstrates the sport is making a difference to the lives of players, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body said 81 per cent of respondents cited playing boccia as having a positive impact on their daily lives, while 76 per cent said participating in the game has improved their confidence.

Outside of the COVID-19 restrictions, 66 per cent said they play once a week or more.

A total of 39 per cent of respondents said the sport has encouraged them to get involved in other activities where possible.

The impact of COVID-19 on players was also addressed in the survey, with 51 per cent of respondents saying they are less active now as a direct consequence of the need to stay safe.

The survey found 47 per cent believe the pandemic has had a significant impact on mental well-being.

Boccia England chief executive Chris Ratcliffe welcomed the findings regarding the positive impact of the sport.

Ratcliffe said the pandemic had also led to the governing body launching its Boccia at Home initiative, which aims to provide resources to ensure players can remain active or participate in the sport with family members from home.

"The results of our annual survey cover the period affected by the pandemic when we launched Boccia at Home," Ratcliffe said.

"I’m delighted to see how the game is being played for fun, or competitively in kitchens, dining rooms and gardens and then streamed online.

"It’s all about giving people a way to build back physical and mental resilience, as well as maintaining a sense of social and community involvement.

"In time we will be able to get back to our local clubs and the face-to-face competitions all of us enjoy.

"Despite the limitations we face, it’s clear from the survey that this game makes a massive difference in the lives of people who would otherwise miss out on the benefits a sport can bring”.

Boccia is an international target ball game played from a seated position and is ideal for wheelchair users.

It tests muscle control and accuracy as players propel balls to land close to a white marker ball.

More than 54,000 people in England played the game in 2020, and for over half of the regular players it is the only sporting option open to them.

During the first lockdown, Boccia England arranged an online competition called The Rainbow Cup.

Azhad Fauzi was among the participants in the online event, with the 19-year-old having previously played at his club in Durham.

"The Rainbow Cup was an amazing way to stay connected and to share my progress with friends and family," Fauzi said.

"It has given them a small insight to what boccia was and how important it is to me.

"It sparked a spirit that I thought had been lost during isolation and made me more motivated and competitive with every challenge.

"It allowed me to be creative and use the limited space and resources around me that I never knew could be helpful for training."