Malaysia-Indonesia boccia friendly match an inspiration to film director

Last update: 28/09/2019

By Linda Khoo Hui Li

BANGKOK, Sept 28 -- A boccia friendly match between Malaysia and Indonesia in April last year was the inspiration behind internationally acclaimed nonprofit documentary by Indonesian filmmaker and director, Natalia Tjahja.

Titled ‘Movie Boccia’, the documentary is about the sport and the talent of the disabled athletes.

“It’s about their spirit and determination, their wheelchair-bound bodies. I wanted to tell their stories and raise awareness on the sport, while at the same time inspire hope among the disabled youths around the world,” she told Bernama here.

Natalia said she was introduced to boccia by Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Para Games boccia team manager Tunku Maziah Tunku Mukhtar in 2017. 

“I met Tunku Maziah at a charity event in Kuala Lumpur, and she encouraged me to contact the Indonesian boccia para-team. We then worked together to arrange a friendly match between the two countries,” she said.

It was then that she decided that she wanted to tell the world about boccia and its wheelchair-bound players.

Among the incredible stories that she encountered while shooting the documentary was that of Neo Kah Whye from Singapore, who battles through pain by taking 14 painkillers each day just to play boccia.

Natalia said that her documentary also features Malaysian boccia players, Lean Chin Kit (Boccia BC1) and Lee Chee Hong (Boccia BC2) and Mohammed Syafiq Mohammed Noh  (Boccia BC 2).

“We plan to screen the movie in Malaysia by November,” she said.

Besides the Malaysian team, “Movie Boccia” also shares the stories of para athletes with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and related disabilities from nine other countries, namely China, Chinese Taipei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

The first screening of “Movie Boccia” was in Jakarta, Indonesia, on May 16 followed by premieres in other cities such as Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore.

Boccia is a precision ball sport mostly played by people with severe disabilities affecting their motor skills by throwing coloured balls as close as possible to a white target ball.

The game is played on a flat, smooth surface, with a court the size of a badminton court where players will throw the coloured balls by hands, feet or with an assistive device such as head pointer (depending on the player’s disability) to release the ball.