Saturday, 24 October 2009

Penarth teenagers grab the boules by the horns in Africa

Two brothers from Penarth Petanque Club have returned home from an African adventure where they tried to throw up a surprise at the World Junior Petanque Championships.

Jesse and Sam Lipetz-Robic were part of the first Welsh junior squad to compete internationally in the sport, also known as boules, and it is hoped that the sport’s profile can now rise in Wales.

The championships, held in the Tunisian city of Monastir, saw 30 nations from across the world take to the petanque ‘piste,’ but a tough draw meant the Welsh team were always up against it. They managed an excellent victory over Libya but sadly were defeated in their four other group games.

This put them into the knockout Cup of Nations, where they faced Slovenia. Unfortunately, despite coming back to draw level at 9-9, the Eastern European team’s superior killer instinct sent the Wales team home.

It was a great experience though, and excellent exposure for a sport that has hopes to become both a Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games event in the future.

Scott Murray, who combines his job as manager of Penarth Leisure Centre with a youth development officer role for the Welsh Petanque Association, said: "I hope that this championships provides a catalyst for other youngsters in Wales to get involved in petanque and see that the potential is there now to compete on a global stage. It’s the sort of sport that most people will have had a go at on holiday, and we hope that by raising the sport’s profile we can soon attract more people to play regularly, particularly juniors"

Anyone who has been to France will have seen that the game is a popular part of their culture, with the country boasting over 17 million casual players. France also has 350,000 players registered as competing regularly, while, as far afield as Thailand, there are more than 120,000 players.

Wales has a long way to go to catch up with these figures, but there are many petanque clubs in the Principality, including Penarth Petanque Club. It’s a game that any age can play, and men and women can compete against each other.

Scott was supported in his role in Tunisia by the Vale of Glamorgan Council, and the council’s youth service helped out by providing transport for the squad to get to Gatwick Airport before flying out to Tunisia.

Vale council cabinet member for leisure and tourism Cllr Anthony Ernest said: "It is always fantastic to see Wales taking on the world at any sport, and the council is keen to support Scott’s role in encouraging more young people to get off the sofa and get active. I would urge any youngsters who fancy playing petanque to get involved with a local club as one day they may also be able to represent their country."

You can find out more about petanque by calling Welsh Petanque Association president Tony Smith on 07714 956319, while, for details about Penarth Petanque Club, please call club president Jean-Yve Robic on 07968 164451 or visit


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