Welcome to petanque, the newest Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center attraction. Petanque is an easy, community-building game that originated a century ago in the south of France as a simpler version of other traditional outdoor bowling games (think Bocce, for example).
My interest is always aroused by that word, “simpler.” Even better, comes the added assurance that petanque requires no special skill and everyone can play. This is one of the fastest growing social sports in the Northwest, so it’s time for Bainbridge to join the party.
Garret Veley, an enthusiastic and experienced devotee of the game, is eager to see it spread. He brought the idea to the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center with an offer to provide free lessons.
“Sue Barrington has been an awesome force in moving the idea along,” Veley told me. “Three of our Bainbridge Island City Council members, Lester, Hytopoulis and Ward, have expressed interest and support for the project, as have some local businesses, such as Marche, Eleven and Via Rosa.”
Veley explained that while petanque players already exist on the Island — Greg Conyers is headed off to Normandy for an invitational tournament and at least two families have built private petanque courts at their homes on Bainbridge — what is needed for the game to spread here, is a good public space in a visible, easily accessible location from the ferry. That will allow us to have games with teams from Seattle and Edmonds, where the sport is already well established and popular. Waterfront Park might fit that bill.
To help with the effort, the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center will be offering free classes in petanque on weekends through September, using the expertise of Garret Veley. Classes will meet at the Waterfront Park Community Center from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22; 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28; and 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29. Once everyone has gathered at the community center, the group will head over to Waterfront Park for lessons and play.
I hope by now you’ve picked up on the key words: simpler version, no special skill or experience needed, and free! What can’t you like about that? So hopefully you will make it to a Saturday or Sunday session and experience our newest game. Think of the fun, the healthy activity, and the bragging rights, as you join the sporting, social, trendy set introducing petanque to Bainbridge Island.