Bocce ball, bocci, or boccie are all nicknames of the ball sport Bocce. It belongs to the boules family and has a close relation with British bowls and French pétanque. The game’s common ancestry stretches as far back as the Roman Empire but was developed to its present form in Italy. It has spread across Europe and to nations where Italians have emigrated to, first amongst the descendants and more now to the wider community. The game is mainly played on natural soil or asphalt surfaces and the size of the court is 27.4 metres in length and 2.5 to 4 metres in width. Unlike most boules sports where the balls are made of specific materials, with Bocce it can range from the traditional wooden ball, metal, baked clays, or those made from a wide range of plastics.
What makes Bocce very popular is that it can be played between only two players, or two teams of two, three, or four players. The match starts firstly with the jack, the smaller ball, being thrown from one end of the court into a zone 5 metres in length and ending 2.5 metres from the other end of the court. The jack can also go by the names of boccino (little bocce) or pallino (little ball). Should the randomly chosen side miss the zone area twice, the other team can then place the jack anywhere within the zone. The object for either team is to get as many of the balls closer to the jack than the opposing team. The team who has placed the jack, also get to bowl first. The team who does not have the ball nearest to the jack, has a chance to bowl until they have completed their four balls. At that point, the other side bowl their remaining balls. A team receives one point for any of their balls being nearer to the jack than the nearest ball of the opposing team. To knock the jack from its position, a player is permitted to launch their ball in the air using an underarm action.
The Confederazione Boccistica Internazionale (CBI) is the highest recognised authority governing the sport of Bocce. CBI was established in September 1983 in Chiasso. Since then, the game has grown worldwide and in 1988 the 1st Individual World Championship featured with 21 nations present. In 2000 saw the first World Championship in Africa with Welkom in South Africa as the host city.