Generally speaking, when you see me on a pétanque court, I am there to play. But lately, due to a nagging back problem, I had to skip some games and show up as a mere bystander. This temporary setback (I hope) gave me a better chance to observe local players and assess their styles and performances.
Lately, we have seen an increased number of women players on our field, and I am delighted by this trend. But unfortunately, and despite my urgings, few women volunteer to play as “strikers”. It is a crying shame because if you don’t try, you will never know if you have an aptitude for it or not. And some women definitely have it, and are accomplished strikers…
Most of all, this inclination has something to do with a person’s temperament. The men or women who take up this task are usually known in French as “battant” or “battante” (fighter), someone who reaches for success despite obstacles.
They are pretty self-assured and are not afraid to take chances. And this is good because a pétanque game without any boules clinking is like a dish without seasoning. Dull… terribly dull.
A spectator likes to see sparks and hear the sound of “carreaux” when watching a game. And a true striker won’t let a wall of boules deter him from hitting a valuable target behind any obstacle.
Strikers, like the gunslingers of yore, have different personalities. Some seem to be reluctant to take a chance on a dicey shot; but any true “battant” will go for it, and if successful, bathe in the deserved glory of his/her accomplishment.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
A woman who dared to take up the striking challenge has been a certain Tamara (known to intimates as the Blazing Babushka). In the beginning, she was a little hesitant to do so, but with my encouragements, she started to assume her new role and eventually blossomed into a decent striker. She now surprises and delights many players with her newly acquired skills.
Another woman who is showing promises is a person with a thoroughly engaging personality. Her name is Ann K. and she has always been eager to learn and try new things. Give her another year and she will bloom into a great player.
I am now looking forward to next Sunday where in Sonoma we are going to participate in the first official tournament since the beginning of the pandemic. I am teaming up with the Blazing Babushka and I expect her to do most of the heavy lifting.
See you on the battlefield (masked, naturally).