Masterton Petanque Club committee members Myrna Lane, Graeme Morris, and club captain Joan Miller. PHOTO/ELI HILL

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

The Masterton Petanque Club is celebrating its 25th anniversary today and tomorrow, with about 37 people expected to attend the celebrations.

The sport, which is particularly popular in France has players score points by projecting boules close to a small target ball, or by hitting the opponents’ boules away from the target, while standing inside a circle with both feet on the ground.

Masterton Petanque Club was formed after Claire and Garry Wilson had seen it being played while on their OE in 1993.

On their return they advertised for anyone interested in playing the game to contact them.

A meeting to form the club was held at the Wilsons’ property in Willow Park Drive in May 1994.

Club members would play on a casual monthly basis at the Wilsons’ home.

As membership numbers increased, club activities were moved to the Riding for the Disabled indoor facility in Nursery Road.

When the New Zealand Petanque Association, later to become Petanque New Zealand, was formed in 1994, Masterton was one of the first clubs in New Zealand to join the newly formed national body.

This allowed club members to play in the first New Zealand Triples Championship held in Auckland in November 1994.

An approach was made by Garry to the Masterton District Council for a public petanque terrain to be built near the croquet club in Queen Elizabeth II Park.

‘The Park Pitch’ as it was known was finished by November 1996 and regular play began.

Later the Masterton Petanque Club joined the Park Bowling Club as “associate” members and built a terrain on an unused bowling green in front of the clubrooms.

Committee member Graeme Morris said he enjoyed the strategy of the game.

“People perceive the game as a leisure rather than a serious sport. And one of our issues is getting people to realise it’s a bit more than that.

“It is a serious sport – there are millions of people that play it.”

The club has about 25 members and has had success nationally and internationally.

Club members have achieved placings at events such as the Oceania Championships, in transtasman tests, and the Women’s World Championship.

Club captain Joan Miller said petanque was a game for everyone regardless of age and encouraged people to come along and give it a try.

“People can just walk in and we have equipment they can use until they’re ready to get their own.”

Celebrations begin tonight with a mix and mingle featuring casual games and photo displays.

On Saturday from 1pm the club will hold a melee tournament which non-members are invited to.

Names will go into a hat and players will be put into teams for three games with a 25th anniversary cup being presented to the winner at the end of the tournament.

The celebrations will finish with a dinner at the Wairarapa Citizens and Services Club on Saturday night.