(Eleuthera, Bahamas) – After successfully hosting the Special Olympics Bocce Nationals in Eleuthera in 2016, which is the official sport of Special Olympics, the island once again welcomed national teams from Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence who returned for a second experience of battling it out on Eleuthera soil in Tarpum Bay against the host Eleuthera team – made up of students from the School for Exceptional Learners in Governor’s Harbour.

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“It’s been a great two days”, said coach Tony Crean during the afternoon on Saturday, as players were well into the team competition phase of the games.  Play began at noon on Friday, April 28th, following the opening ceremony, with singles matches, breaking at 7pm on Friday evening and resumed on Saturday morning, April 29th, bright and early at 9:30am, where doubles matches preceded full team competition, wrapping up that afternoon with medal presentations.

“Yesterday, we shot exceptionally well.  The other teams have more experience than us, but we are getting there.  It was also nice to see people come out – we seemed to have support from the community, as well as generous donors.  It’s been a really good event, and played in a good spirit, which is what you want at Special Olympics.  You want to be competitive, but not overly so,” shared coach Crean.

Athletes in full competition
              Athletes in full competition at the 2017 Special Olympics Bocce Nationals in Eleuthera

For newbies to Bocce the objective of the game is; there is a small ball called by different names like the ‘jack’, the ‘pallino’ and so many others, which becomes the target.  It’s a moving target, because when the game starts, the first player moves the ‘pallino’ into play.  Once its rolled into play, then each team will take turns trying to get their balls as close to the ‘pallino’ as possible.  At the end of the game, the team who has their balls closest to the ‘pallino’ will win, and points are scored by having as many balls as close to the ‘pallino’ as you can.  So you can score from one to four points in a game, each team having four balls to roll.

“It looks like we may have found a permanent host site for this annual event”, touted Special Olympics Bahamas about the weekend in Tarpum Bay.  “The tournament was a huge success. Teams from the islands of Abaco, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence all represented their respective programs and the athletes thoroughly enjoyed themselves. This was a tremendous show of support from the entire community of Eleuthera, unlike anything we’ve seen before” said National Director Gilbert Williams, adding, “The tournament is expected to be a tremendous boost to the awareness factor of the Special Olympics program on the island of Eleuthera, and The Bahamas as a whole.”

The enthusiastic children competing on the Eleuthera team this weekend, included: Justin Munroe, Jovante Saunders, Albanisha Brown,  Lianna Johnson, Kevin Pinder, and Clifford Alcime.  Later in May, a team from Eleuthera will also go on to compete in the Special Olympics annual track and field nationals, scheduled to take place at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in New Providence on Saturday, May 27th, 2017.