On the boules court, winners’ heads of all ages can meet on equal terms. “You never get too old to compete,” says Jan Petschler, chairman of IF Boden’s Petanque.
Tuesday and Thursday evening means training for the competition section at Bodens Boule Center. Jan and Kerstin Petschler, Anders Nyström and Annett Martinsson are training before the next match. They play boules in div 1 for veterans (55+).
– We played golf so there were no plans in the world for us. But then my sister once asked if I should tag along and try it. I thought, “What kind of silliness is this?” but I went anyway. And I got sold on it, from the first time, says Kerstin.
Her husband Jan was skeptical and it took a year before he tested but he got just as interested.
– The fun thing is that you can be pretty good in competition even though you are not so young. It’s quick to learn so you can join but it takes time to get good. It is a real concentration sport, it is important to be able to focus the whole match, says Jan.
The game is about placing your balls near the small ball, the “little one”, and pushing away the opponents’ balls. The one who is closest to the little one when the game is over gets points for the balls that are closer than the opponent’s. First to 13 points wins and a match usually takes just over an hour. You can play in teams of three, two or alone.
To be really good, a lot of training and experience is required, they all agree on that. You have to master many techniques to be good on all courses, surfaces and opponents.
– It’s one thing to stand and throw balls here in the evening when you have no pressure on you but then you end up in match mode, maybe even in the final, people sit and watch and then it is also important to be able to perform . That is what the charm is, I think, says Anders.
That we are dealing with a bunch of real winners’ is obvious.
– I think it’s so incredibly fun, I’m a competitive person. I just want to play and win. It does not always happen, but from time to time, says Kerstin.
– People say that you need to have a good sense for it, but I thought when I was younger that I have no skills in ball sports at all. However, I think it is fantastic fun to compete. No matter what sport you do, it’s fun to win, says Anders.
In 1989, some of the members of Societé Arctic Boule broke away and started IF Boden’s Petanque to compete. That was when Anders started.
– Since then, I have been to the Swedish Championships every year except one, says Anders.
There have been some medals for the association over the years. Most recently, the Swedish Championship gold in the class single for Benny Martinsson. Every other week there is a chance to compete, in addition to the league game and the Swedish Championships, there are district championships and many open competitions in different parts of the country. The Boden players have also been on bowling trips to France, Spain and the Czech Republic. When they are out on their tours, they meet friends with the same interest everywhere.
– It’s very social. When you play, you always meet people and we stand together with the motorhomes, cook and eat together, says Kerstin.
The association currently has about 90 members aged 27-93, of which just over 70 percent are over 65 years old. Far from everything is about competition, the social part is an important part of the association’s activities. Just over half of the members come here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the day. They play a match, sit and talk and have coffee together and play a little more. The game is not physically heavy, but you get a chance to move your arms and legs and get out and meet people. The Heart Association also comes here once a week.
– I think this has saved a lot of doctor visits. Even if you have a disability, you can play, it is no problem if you have a walker, are in a wheelchair or have been paralyzed in half your body after a stroke, says Anders. #