Team Tasmania triumphs on the piste

THE Tasmanian over 60s pétanque team have come away victorious from the Pétanque Federation of Australia’s Interstate Challenge after going through the competition undefeated against various experienced national players.

Pétanque is a bowling game that is played on a piste (playing field) with small heavy silver balls or ‘boules’.

After finishing in second place for three years in a row, the Tasmanian team that travelled to New South Wales contained a mixture of experience and novices.

While Terry Dando, Judy Whiteaker and Jenny Webb had all represented Australia before, Peter Webb, Margi McGarry and Simon McGarry were novices playing in their first national competition.

“They were relative newcomers and hadn’t been playing pétanque for that long, three years at most, and they performed absolutely brilliantly,” Mr Dando, who acted as the team’s captain and coach, said.

“We trained three times a week for an hour and a half each session, practicing different skills and talking tactics because pétanque is 60 per cent skill and 40 per cent tactics.”

The Tasmanian team played as a cohesive unit right from the opening round against Western Australia, and did not let that passion slip throughout the tournament, even when they could not get knocked out of first spot heading into the final round against New South Wales.

“I wanted us to play really well in the last game and I thought they might become complacent knowing that we couldn’t get knocked off top stop, so I didn’t tell them – I just said lets go out there and play like we have been playing,” Mr Dando said.

“The team was absolutely excited about winning, they were out of this world.”

All the team members were from the Bayside Boules Pétanque Club, which has 43 members from Hobart, Glenorchy, Kingborough and Clarence.

Mr Dando said pétanque was a sport for all ages and abilities, as it could be played purely as a leisure pursuit or competitively all over the world.

“It’s an easy game to play – five minutes to learn, a lifetime to master,” he said.

“The social aspect is terrific because you meet people from all walks of life and all ages because you can play the game from the age of four to 90.

“It’s also easy on the body and you don’t have to worry about pulling muscles and hamstrings like in other sports.”

Mr Dando took up pétanque in 2002 after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

“Previously I had played a lot of tennis and golf, and I completely lost my balance in recovery,” he said.

“I found I was unable to cope with tennis and golf and someone suggested that I come to pétanque – that was in 2002 and in 2007 I was fortunate enough to be representing Australia.”

For more information on pétanque, visit the Bayside Boules Pétanque Club Facebook page.

Caption: From left, the winning Tasmanian over 60s pétanque team of Jenny Webb, Simon McGarry, captain Terry Dando, Margi McGarry and Judy Whiteaker. Absent, Peter Webb.


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