Petanque, a game for all

Joan Healey and Francie Osborn enjoy petanque and encourage people to attend the Ashburton MSA Petanque Club open day.

Petanque is a fun, sociable outdoor game, suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

And this Saturday members of the Ashburton MSA Petanque Club will open their facilities to people keen to have a look.

Played by lofting a grapefruit-sized metallic ball, weighing around 700grams, toward a smaller ball (called a jack, or coche), the idea is to get as close as possible to the jack, and hold the position from your opponents.

There is limited lifting or bending but a fair bit of light lane walking.

It’s a game that’s kept relatively-new Ashburton MSA Petanque Club members Joan Healey and Francie Osborn returning year-after-year to play.

Healey has been playing for the club for two seasons, and Osborn three.

“I like the friendly camaraderie of those at the club, and like playing, she said.

“It’s an interesting game in the fresh air and a great way to exercise.”

Osborne agreed, adding, “I love the game, love that you don’t have to get down on hands and knees to play (or pick up balls).”

Club president Karen Bensdorp said the level of competition sought was different for everyone.

But it was a fun, easy to play game offering great health benefits, including being very social.

There is a cuppa in the club house afterwards, she said.

The game is played all year round and only called off “if the jack is floating”, she laughed. It’s made of wood.

The metallic ball is swung, underhand towards the jack, and games can be played in singles, doubles or triples teams.

For people unable to bend, magnet aids were available for use to pick up balls.

There were social games, and more competitive with potential for higher accolades with club tournaments and regional competitions.

It’s traditionally played during the week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But Bensdorp, a competitive player herself, said the open day was also to see if there was interest in setting up a regular weekend competition for people who worked, or any school children who might be keen to play.

Bensdorp said enthusiasm for the game had grown in Ashburton since its introduction a decade ago; the club had 50 members.

“Just come along and see if you like it,” she said.

Club members would be on hand to guide people in play, and answer any questions on the sport.

The Have A Go Day is on Saturday at the club’s piste in the grounds of the MSA Bowling Club at 115 Racecourse Road. It starts at 1pm and runs until around 3pm. Vaccine pass required.