What a surprise to see the sport of pétanque making the headlines in your paper.
As chairman of the long established Handcross Pétanque Club, ten minutes from Crawley town centre, I would like to comment on the ‘war of words’ occasioned by councillor Mullins’ proposal to build a facility in the Memorial Gardens.
As a frequent visitor and one time resident of Crawley for many years, I appreciate Councillor Burgess’s concerns about spoiling the gardens with a sporting activity. I doubt, however, that there would be too much impact on the gardens as the proposed pitch would only accommodate one game of maximum six persons at a time. It would certainly not be big enough to hold competitions. You would need something at least six times larger to do that (our ground is 12 times bigger). On the other hand I doubt it if it would be a much used facility (and would quickly revert to a flower bed). Our ground is used by our 40+ members (several from Crawley) for only four hours a week on club days plus odd days of events, league matches and competitions. The sport is just not played casually in the UK as it is in the town squares of France. If Crawley wants a pétanque ground, it should find a spot near an existing sports facility and build a proper ‘terrain’.
I would take issue with Councillor Burgess about the sport appearing to be ‘elitist’. It is certainly not that. It may be a minority past-time but it requires very little expenditure on equipment (three steel boules and a jack) and can be played by all people of all ages and conditions. My advice to Crawley is to save your money, leave the gardens for peaceful enjoyment and travel the short distance to Handcross Recreation Ground where you will find a warm welcome every Sunday morning. We offer a free trial, good company - and a lot of fun. For more see www.handcrosspetanque.org.uk.
Chairman, Les Bonne Boules de Handcross, The Recreation Ground, Handcross
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