Boule-bear­ing ‘bomb’ scare sinks pe­tanque team’s dreams

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Anita Singh

WHEN a crack team from the Jersey Pe­tanque As­so­ci­a­tion set off for an in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment, their hopes of suc­cess were high.

But their dreams of win­ning the veter­ans’ tro­phy were dashed when the suit­case of team mem­ber Keith Boleat was con­fis­cated by air­port se­cu­rity.

His three steel boules, packed in a bag along­side a mo­bile phone lead, charger and some pain re­lief gel, were feared to be a bomb.

Mr Boleat had to play with bor­rowed equip­ment, and it cost him dearly. His highly fan­cied, three-man team fin­ished a lowly 21st out of 25 over­all at the Euro­pean Veter­ans Triples com­pe­ti­tion in Den­mark.

The re­tired plumber, 63, said com­pet­ing with­out his own kit had af­fected his game. “I’m used to the weight of my own boules,” he ex­plained.

Mr Boleat and his team-mates flew from Jersey to Copen­hagen via Gatwick last Thurs­day. Some­where on the jour- ney, his bag went astray and was ac­ci­den­tally loaded on to a flight to Am­s­ter­dam. Sus­pi­cious about the con­tents. air­port au­thor­i­ties held up its on­ward jour­ney to Copen­hagen.

Steve Foster, the team man­ager, said: “Keith was track­ing his bag on some on­line fa­cil­ity and it was sup­posed to ar­rive on the Fri­day, but then they said it wouldn’t ar­rive un­til the Satur­day.

“He asked why, and they said it had been searched as a sus­pected bomb. They are steel balls and I sup­pose they weren’t sure what they were for.

“I’m not aware of any­thing like this ever hap­pen­ing be­fore and the re­ac­tion from peo­ple at the com­pe­ti­tion was one of amuse­ment. It was ob­vi­ously un­set­tling for Keith though, as he had to play with bor­rowed boules.”

Mr Boleat also had a to wear a bor­rowed shirt and trousers when an um­pire re­fused to let him play in the jeans he had trav­elled in. He was re­united with his own equip­ment a day later.

“All the boules have dif­fer­ent weights and di­am­e­ters so they roll in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions,” said Mr Boleat.

“The ones I bor­rowed had stripes, which af­fects the grip and the way the boules land. I def­i­nitely felt I played bet­ter after I got my own boules back.”

The team fin­ished sec­ond to Ger­many in the Na­tions Cup knock­out con­test, which took place at the end of the tour­na­ment, by which time Mr Boleat had his own boules back.

Mr Boleat said he even­tu­ally saw the funny side, and that ri­val teams were amused by his predica­ment. “There were 25 dif­fer­ent coun­tries there and they all found it funny,” he said.

Re­united: Keith Boleat with his boules, which were seized by air­port se­cu­rity of­fi­cials after they mis­took them for a bomb

Keith’s bag and its con­tents

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