Harry Bowtell photograph
Sport: Boccia, Multi-sport, Swimming, Bowling
District: Brentwood

I began my journey into sport when I started at Secondary school. I learnt how to play Boccia and multi-sport games and I became captain for the Boccia team and when I was in year 10. I started to help teach the lower years how to play the sport. I was nominated by Hall Mead School for a Panathlon Jack Petchey Outstanding Achiever Award in 2016 and selected as a runner up.

As I have a physical disability, a visual impairment (nystagmus), as well as being on the Autistic spectrum, I would not have enjoyed taking part in physical games like football and a young age I was not always able to understand or follow instructions or strategies, nor feel comfortable to participate using the best of my ability in mainstream sport. However Panathlon gave me a specific activity and competition with my peers, which gave me the confidence to overcome fear, to understand sport better and to perform to the best of my ability.

As a Panathlon competitor, I started to gain confidence and loving sport, so I started to take a lead role and want to inspire class and team-mates. As I enjoyed playing and helping with Panathlon, I asked if I would be able to volunteer for them which they agreed to. Despite me having complex physical and learning needs, my confidence has rocketed as I have progressed from athlete to coach and official.

I have seized the chance to build on my boccia skill set by undertaking the Level 1 official’s course and acting as a referee at the Lord’s Taverners National Schools Boccia Final in Hatfield in April 2018. I also passed my Level 1 multi-sport leaders course and will be getting involved with more coaching in the coming months, becoming even more of a role model to SEN children and young people.

This coming year I will take more responsibility for development within Panathlon of the Paralympic sport Boccia and become more involved in the officiating and overseeing leaders performance on event days. I am also looking to complete a Level 2 course with Boccia England which will enable community involvement.

In the future would love to work in disability sport, it has given me confidence and I like seeing people enjoy themselves. I believe sport can play an important role in all people’s lives whatever level they attain.