How the popularity of pétanque is uniting communities in one Yorkshire village as it looks to launch juniors' club
The Yorkshire village of Molescroft has a swish new piste on which to play and the club is expanding its horizons with an open day this Sunday and plans for a new juniors’ club.
This is a game thought to be descended from ancient Greeks throwing stones. In pétanque, players throw steel balls, known as boules, as close as possible to a smaller target ball, or jack.
And in this little village near Beverley it is creating a common ground, club members say, with primary school pupils and women’s institute groups among those to try their hand.
Suham Sidani is secretary of the Molescroft Beverley Pétanque Club, which has members ranging in age from 11 to 83. He said: “We’re finding it’s not only a sport, it’s bringing people together. And after lockdowns, people have been encouraged to come out.
“It’s so lovely to see children playing with their grandparents, and mixing with more elderly members of the community,” he added. “You can hear their laughter miles away.
“The idea now is to create a junior club, encouraging more young people to take part.”
The game of pétanque is said to date back to 1907 in Provence, in Southern France, from a similar game where competitors had to run before throwing.
When one rheumatic player could no longer run, pétanque was developed, where players stand and throw (pétanque roughly translates as ‘feet together’).
In Molescroft plans for a club began a few years, when the parish council looked to create a community space.
Chairman Thierry Condette, who runs the nearby TC Patisserie, was approached for his advice as a player. And so the club was born, with just eight members.
It has now grown to 46, with interest rising over the past two years and with three of its members competing for the region and even nationally.
Thanks to a £20,600 grant from East Riding Council and funds from Molescroft Parish Council and the Do It For East Yorkshire Fund, the club has been able to extend its piste at Molescroft Pavilion, and build a new one to increase capacity.
What it means, said Mr Sidani, is that the club can play tournaments, inviting other teams to compete on its piste.
This is a game that crosses boundaries, he says, regardless of age or fitness or gender: “There’s no limit – so long as you can move you can play.”
Mr Sidani, a former championship swimmer, said it satisfies a sporting need and helped him find new friends.
He said: “I lost my wife a few years ago and this has helped me to socialise. It’s really filled a gap, and I like open air games.
"Now we are pioneering a junior club, developing a future generation that can take part in junior competitions. It’s so exciting.”
An opening celebration is to be held this Sunday, May 15, inviting members of the public to try out Molescroft Beverley Pétanque Club’s new piste.
There will be a tournament, and practice pistes, and with the parish and district councils hosting activities in the neighbouring pavilion and fields.
Local dance and guitar groups are to perform, while there will be family activities with arts and crafts and promise of an ice cream van.
Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.