Students from John Bentley School gained their first taste of Paralympic sport at a competitive level during the South West Regional Boccia Championships.

Boccia, which became a Paralympic sport in 1984, is a non-contact sport similar to bowls where players aim to throw their balls as close as possible to the target.

Three students at the school competed against 12 other teams in Exeter to win tenth place overall.

For Chelsea Jinks, Levi Jinks and Leanne Stevens this was only the sixth time they had played the game after learning how to play it in school.

During the game a ball can be propelled by rolling, throwing or kicking. Players can also use a ramp to assist them or, if they are unable to use their hands, a head pointer.

Chelsea, aged 15, said: “It was nice to prove to able bodied people, who might think people in wheelchairs can’t do a lot of sport, that we can actually do it just in a different way.”

Eight other students also attended the championship as game officials and were responsible for ensuring fair play and accurate measurements.

Two of these, Luvly Peramo and Megan Hughes, have been asked to help as officials at the national championships in May in Sheffield after impressing organisers.

Both students have been placed on the Paralympic pathway for officiating and will receive mentoring from Paralympic officials in the future.

Megan, aged 15, is in year ten at the moment and hopes to become a professional coach in the future.

She said: “I will be applying for college and I’m looking into doing sports development. Doing the Boccia coaching has given me more self-esteem and given me more confidence to try out coaching out of school.”

PE teacher Samantha Shuker, who accompanied the team to Exeter, said the team had played extremely well against experienced opposition.

She said: “This is something we’re trying to push forwards due to the Olympic legacy. It’s certainly something we will keep using in school.

“I was really proud of what these guys did. They had a really professional attitude and there were many positive comments from spectators, other schools and Boccia England.

“Our players did exceptionally well to finish tenth and the whole team are delighted that two students have been selected to officiate at the National Championships.”