New players are having a boule!

A GAME with a continental flavour has made its way to Heckmondwike – now all that is needed is people to play it.

A terrain for the French game of petanque, or boules, has been installed in Firth Park, and a small group of players is hoping more people will take up the sport and form a team to take part in competitions.

Organiser Paul Simpkins said: “We have been discussing it with Kirklees Council for two years. Since then we have been trying to get a club organised.

“Petanque is quite unusual in the north of England. I play in Leeds but it’s a long way to go. It’s much easier having a terrain round the corner.

“It’s the first one of its kind in Kirklees.

“We have three or four experienced players and we have had about 20 people who are interested.

“We hope to end up with about 30 people who will all play regularly and play against other teams in the region.

“We already have a couple of competitions planned.”

He said petanque was developed in 1907 in the south of France, when a rheumatic player altered a different game to suit his disability.

Now, 17 million people in France play it.

The ‘coche’ is thrown between six and 10 metres and players throw their steel boules as close as they can to the coche from a circle drawn in the sand.

He said: “It’s not just rolling and hoping to get closer – some players specialise in knocking their opponent’s boules out of the game and there’s quite an element of strategy in the game.

“Some say it’s chess with steel balls and the result is always in doubt until the final boule is thrown.”

Paul said anyone who was interested in having a go at the sport could come along to taster sessions on Saturday mornings in the park.

He said the game was often played on the beach or on a lawn, but should be played on a proper gravel terrain – and keen players could spend hundreds of pounds on a steel set of boules.

But he said Kirklees Council had provided leisure sets for people to try out the sport.

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