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.

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