High school pupils pursue petite piggie
‘‘Sometimes the weather is not beautiful, but we still come.’’
Throughout the term, QEC teacher Leanne Mark has been regularly bringing groups of students from the neighbouring high school across to the North St Manawatu Petanque Club for sports sessions.
Petanque and Kiwi teens on the face of it may not quite add up, but Mark said there was method in the ‘madness’.
‘‘The good thing about petanque is that it is competitive and can be played by non-athletic people. Some of these kids have never played any sort of sport.
‘‘And as the club backs on to the school, why not make the most of a resource right at your back door?’’
What started as a trial has stretched across the full term.
‘‘Most of them had never played the game - 99 per cent,’’ Mark said.
‘‘I didn’t know how they’d take to it, but most of them are as keen as.’’
Each of the four groups gets nine sessions during the term on the piste - the petanque equivalent of a bowling green - for just $5.
Club members provide volunteer coaches passing on advice and strategies.
One of them, Willy Tipene is clearly impressed with the youngsters’ abilities.
‘‘Where have you been hiding these kids?’’ he wanted to know.
‘‘They’re very respectful, and are like little sponges wanting to know more.’’
Petanque, Tipene said, teaches sportsmanship, communication and the ability to strategise.
While it may look like lawn bowls without the bias, he said bias can be created with a flick of the wrist.
The club’s Elva Cooper said it started six or seven years ago with just nine regular members. Now there are 39.
Not that any of the teens will probably play out of school hours, but she had enjoyed watching them enjoy themselves chasing the cochonnet or little pig, which is the equivalent of the jack in lawn bowls, along the piste.
‘‘I think they’re fabulous. I’ve heard them say things like ‘I didn’t know this game existed’ and ‘This is the first time I have played any sport’.’’
Student Samara Jones, 15, sums it up.
‘‘It’s just fun, and we’re all working together,’’ she said.
Amy Hirini, 14, from QEC lobs a boule during a QEC session at the Manawatu Petanque Club.