Bouleman's Petanque World Wish List

 

Petanque Talk!

Petanque Coach

First off, this is not Bouleman whining about what is wrong with petanque in the US... it is me dreaming of a perfect petanque world, OK?

And I haven't just come up with wishes, I've given a coupla minutes of thought about What it will take to make it happen too.

   
 

US Petanque Youth Program - Nearly every other civilized nation has some sort of Petanque Youth Program. Yet in the US the average age has to be about 47 which isn't bad in Baby Boomer years... since we plan to live forever. Petanque is the perfect life-long sport. It can be started when kids are 8 or so, and can be played until they go to the big terrain in the sky. So why isn't there even the most rudimentary Petanque Youth Program in the US?

Other than the fact that most Americans discover petanque about the time they retire, I have no idea why there isn't a US Petanque Youth program of any sort. To me, starting kids early is a no-brainer.

Bouleman believes that this one should be top priority.

What will it take? First the will to create such a program and fund it while it gets going. Other nations already have successful programs that we could learn from, so most of the work is done. We just need to decide to do it, and then do it. Perhaps exploring grants options will turn up the funding. Or maybe someone will bequeath the funds needed to get the program started. Or maybe the FPUSA will budget a few hundred toward posting some Youth Program booklets in .pdf format for interested clubs and activities directors to download.

Minims!

These could be American kids getting ready for their finals! (but they're not...)

 
   

National Convention and Regional Petanque Camps; See the Petanque Camp page

What will it take? It will probably take a promoter to fund, and organize these. Other hobbies and sports have successful independently organized National Conventions and Camps. Perhaps the camps can be organized in partnership with recreational facilities. It would be very good if each region had their own Petanque Camp - then the rest of us could take our vacations there!

 
 

Petanque DVDs in English (or at least with subtitles in English!); Watching how-to videos, and events in your sport is very important for inspiring us and teaching us to play more skillfully. Here in the US most of us don't have players on the level of the French Masters to watch and learn from. But through the magic of DVDs we can see what is possible, and then run out and try it.

Unfortunately, on the rare occasion that we are able to get our hands on any DVDs of the French playing petanque, they inconveniently do all their talking in French! I sure would like to know what Loy just said to Sirot that made him raise an eyebrow! Or Foyot to Milei just before the throw that looked good but brought a grimace to Pascal! I can make out "petanque" and "bouchon" when the commentator is giving color commentation... but what was the joke that Quintais just shared???

What will it take? Someone with a digital camera and the will and ability to record our Nationals would be a good place to start. Then at least we could become fans of our own players and not folks half way across the world. And someone that knows how to subtitle and translate French would be nice too... Maybe if we all ask Quarterback nicely they will start subtitling the French Masters DVDs! (at least we can now purchase them though Amazon.fr)

 
   

Regional and National Player Ranking; France does it, Germany does it... why not the US? Rankings are a good thing. They help us track our top players so that as a sport we know who they are. I am a real fan of half a dozen French players, but who are the top US players???

It gives incentive to the players to practice more often, and hone their skills. It would also give them incentive to participate in more tournaments, thereby helping those tournaments be more successful for the sponsoring clubs and organizations. Plus, it would just feel great to know that after 3 years of trying you made it into the top 100!

What will it take? Clubs will have to get in the habit of posting their results at the end of the competition day - perhaps on a web site form that will assemble the ranking instantly (only club secretaries would have the code to open the form for posting). We will probably need Regional organizations formed in addition to the FPUSA, to help track the players.

 
 

Tireur Competitions - National and Regional; One has but to watch the French, Belgians, and just about any internationally competitive team play to see the importance of the tir - or shooting throw. The importance of the ability to shoot in petanque is driven home by having a tireur competition at the World Championships. We need to have tireur competitions too. From my experience, too many shooters are rolling shooters - their boule hits the ground a few feet in front of the target and roll the rest of the way. This is only effective if nothing deflects their boule, and if there is no other boule in the way... shooting "on iron" is a skill that is too rarely seen in the US. And the ubiquitous carreau seen in French play is a rarity here. The tireur competitions reward carreau throwing ability as well as more accurate throws. And the configurations of the challenges mimic real-game situations and therefore make good practice for any shooter. So lets start tireur competitions to encourage more and better shooters.

What will it take? Not much really. The FPUSA just has to decide to back the concept and list it on their annual events offering for clubs to sponsor. Clubs can encourage talented shooters to practice the contest configurations.

Tir Competition

5 different challenges at 4 different distances...

 
   

A US Masters Series; The French Masters series is very important to the French petanque community. Not only does it give the fans a chance to watch top players in action as they travel and compete in the various resort towns, but it is a proving ground for the French World Championship teams. Imagine our teams playing all summer against the French Masters! Certainly they would improve! Furthermore, just to get into the Masters most players have to qualify by participating in numerous important tournaments around France the year before. Something like this would encourage our top players to participate in OUR important tournaments as well - just to qualify for the US Petanque Masters Series, and all the fabulous prizes awaiting them there.

What will it take? It will take someone to produce it. The French Masters tour is coordinated by Quarterback. There are certainly other sponsors - their names show up on the players' shirts, and hats. The sponsors' names are on banners around the courts... again this will probably have to be a privately produced series. Perhaps a series of resorts will partner up on this. I am doing a mini-series here on the California Central Coast in cooperation with wineries - a Wine Tasting Petanque Tour(nament). Sip a little, toss a little.

Perhaps to start with, there could be a California Masters Series with teams signing up for the Series. Each club could then designate one of their Select Triplettes Tournaments as a Masters Series tournament. The teams would score points toward qualifying for the Masters Finals by participating and their placement in the Masters Series tournaments.

 
 

An internationally competitive US World Championship team;

What will it take? Pretty much all of the above. That is, we will have to do as many of the Wish List items above as possible for the US to have a real chance.

It is hard for us to be competitive when so many US players start playing so late in life. It is one thing for Marco Foyot to be in his middle age and competing, the man started decades ago... it is another for the rest of us to start a few years ago and expect to compete. The French are "younging down" their France 1 and France 2 teams. The older (very successful) players are being turned into coaches or out to pasture, while spikey-haired, youngsters are showing up in their Masters Series and France National teams. Without a youth program to bring in the young people... without a tournament series for our World's teams to practice in... without Tir Competitions to encourage and reward our shooters... without Petanque Camps to help improve our players' skills, and without a system of ranking to even track our top players... well, we won't probably be in the semi-finals at the Petanque World Championships anytime soon. Right now the US Teams own 41st place at the Worlds... would placing in the top 20 be too much to hope for?

   
 
Inexpensive Portable Scoreboard!

That serious petanque tournaments LOOK LIKE SERIOUS PETANQUE TOURNAMENTS.

Virtually every other sport on the planet takes their Regional and National tournaments seriously enough for the participating teams to dress in matching uniforms, the Umpires to be wearing umpire uniforms and recognizable, the officials to keep a scoreboard updated so that the fans know the score without having to ask...

But go to a petanque tournament... and casual-to-grubby dress is the attire, no two matching, if there is an umpire he/she is probably playing in a game somewhere - good luck spotting them, you have to ask the players what the score is - talk about distracting!

What will it take? Well, an inexpensive scoreboard like the one shown to the left is about $30.00 or less. Each club could have two of them and that would cover the semi-finals and finals. The officials could set up a folding table next to the piste and have the scoreboard within reach. No more bothering the players about the score...

Matching uniforms? Just specify that teams must wear matching tops and enforce it (each club could have some "practice shirts of matching colors like they use in PE classes for those that come from a distance and didn't know - there will be a few regardless of what is on the entry form). Perhaps eventually teams will take pride in themselves and their clubs sufficiently that this matter will be self-evident (t-ballers and peewee football leaguers have figured out the team uniform concept, why not us?).

Umpire uniforms? There are lots of them out there. The FPUSA just needs to decide on a uniform and direct their Umpires to that source, or better yet get some from the French Federation and give them to the FPUSA Umpires. The FPUSA Umpires are providing their services for free... the FPUSA providing them with one uniform upon successfully completing the required tests is not expecting too much. What's a shirt or baseball cap with UMPIRE on it cost? Under $30, for a lifetime of service to the sport?

 

 
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