The Leyton Orient Trust’s work in the community includes a weekly Boccia session with the residents of Doreen Capstan House in Leytonstone.
This accommodation is supported housing for the elderly, and the club have visited on a regular basis over the past five years. Boccia is typically associated with being a Paralympic sport and is like bowls but the one main rule is that you have to remain seated.
Not only does the game require precision and accuracy, but there is a tactical element to it as well and it was clear the residents had done this before as a series of excellent shots were played throughout the afternoon.
As always, it was friendly competition with plenty of laughs on what was an enjoyable social occasion for all involved. The red team stormed into a 5-0 lead but it was far from over as the blues staged a sensational comeback to level at 5-5. Eventually, it was the red team who came out on top after a close finish. Orient’s Callum Kennedy popped in to join in the fun, representing the O’s impeccably as he interacted with the residents and participated in the game.
With the afternoon almost over, it was evident the residents had enjoyed the day. Before leaving, it was great to be able to hear the residents’ opinions on Orient’s visit, with Ronnie saying: “I enjoy coming down because Howard Gould (Community Liaison Officer) always makes it a very pleasant experience and it is a good laugh.”
Also, these sessions have a massive emphasis placed on social interaction, the importance of which cannot be underestimated for the residents. One lady, Barbara, said: “We’ve had Howard come down here regularly and it is such fun because it gets us moving! Plus the players have different things to talk about and it is always enjoyable.” Her fellow resident, Pam, added: “It brings the neighbours together. We hardly see them during the week but with things like Boccia it changes, so it is nice to see them as well as play the game.”
Another regular attendee Carol Canham, who travels from Chingford to join in, said: “I used to run the Chatterbox Club in Chingford where Howard would come to us. I’ve missed all this and my neighbour Jill said they had this here, so I’ve got one of my friends and their brother down here and I’ve been coming for a few weeks now. If it stops I shall miss it because I haven’t got anywhere to go. I’m lonely now and I want to get somewhere and do things. It’s nice and I think Howard and Orient are doing a great job.”
Kennedy follows in the footsteps of previous O’s players such as Ben Chorley, George Porter, Jack Payne and more recently Sammy Moore and commented: “I’ve had a great time. The people are fantastic and seem to really enjoy themselves. I’m glad I could help the red team to victory and would love to come back another time”.