Murray & Roberts announced in late October that Boccia for the Severely Physically Disabled had been awarded their 2010 Letsema Award with prize money of R500 000, payable over five years. The awards are funded by the Letsema Sizwe Broad-Based Community Trust, part of the BBBEE shareholder structure established by Murray & Roberts in 2005.
Boccia is a form of indoor bowls for people with severe disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. This highly technical game is played competitively in 52 countries and is one of only two sports for the severely disabled in the Paralympics.
Ruon van Zyl, a victim of the 1950s polio epidemic, was introduced to the game in England, and realised its value for children in SA schools. His work was recognised in 2008 when Boccia for the Severely Physically Disabled was selected as a beneficiary of the Letsema Sizwe Trust.
In 2003, SASAPD accepted boccia as a paralympic sport with five provinces and 23 athletes competing. Over 500 athletes have found a meaningful pursuit in boccia which has become the fastest growing game for sports people with disabilities.
This year, two South African athletes attended the Boccia World Champs in Portugal. A newly introduced Boccia Leadership Course will train players to be technical officials and forms part of a talent identification strategy to find players with the potential to join a high performance elite athlete squad which will represent SA and seek qualification for the 2016 Paralympics.
The Murray & Roberts Letsema Award was initiated in 2009 following the outstanding performance of athlete Hilton Langenhoven who captured the attention of the world at the 2008 Paralympics in Athens. The award recognises sports development projects for people with disabilities.