Firstly, Happy New Year everyone. What a year 2020 was! Let us hope that 2021 will prove to be a much more fruitful year – I am optimistic that it will be once we emerge from what will be a difficult winter.
With very few of our regional and national events taking place it has been a sad year for pétanque in England and I would like to take this opportunity in thanking all our members who reinvested their 2020 membership fee refunds back into the future of PE and our great game.
Our playing programme was restricted to holding our Junior and Senior National Titles on separate weekends, but the enthusiasm and attendance at the competitions we held despite the difficult circumstances inspired us to look forward to 2021. I’d like to place on record my appreciation to our local and national organisers and umpires for working so hard to make that such a success. My congratulations, too, to our champions who displayed great levels of performance.
During this lockdown period the Pétanque England board members have been working extremely hard to ensure that Pétanque England continues to move in the right direction. We have been doing our very best to plan for the future despite the uncertain times we have faced and there are also a lot of things still being worked on. The PE Board has also produced a nine-page action plan for 2021-23 covering all areas of our work including our domestic playing programme, our international representational programme for all our age/gender categories, coaching, youth development and umpiring.
There are many new and exciting ideas in the plan but our ability to deliver our programmes and build the sport will obviously be affected by the speed in which we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the expected timings of the vaccination programme, we are very hopeful that the implementation of this will coincide with the commencement of our new season, enabling our clubs, leagues and regions to get back to a degree of normality. In particular, we look forward positively to holding the Inter-Regionals in September 2021 at a new venue and are working to that end.
It goes without saying that our ability to re-launch and reinvigorate our sport hinges on the shape of our finances and it is vital that the Board has a very early indication of how many members will be re-joining as soon as possible. If you are planning on joining or re-joining in 2021, I would ask you to please join as soon as you can as it does not make a difference to your membership regarding the amount you pay but it will give the board a much better idea of what can be achieved in 2021. You should have received an email already with an invitation to renew and you can click here to renew as well.
Within the action plan are items such as:
- New member incentive scheme which will benefit our current members and anyone they introduce who then joins PE as a totally new full member.
- Club and Regional loan scheme.
- School development programs.
- Boot camps to provide coaching to all standards of players.
- Regional Tour Events which will focus on club and regional players.
- Rankings will now be awarded to every player who enters the ranking and national events with awards and international opportunities given at Gold, Silver and Bronze levels.
- Junior coaching open days.
- Mentoring program for umpires who are training to become a qualified PE umpire.
Information on all the above and many more will follow over the forthcoming months.
One of the very positive and successful things we achieved in 2020 was the largest ever survey of our members and I’d like to thank everybody that participated in that. One of the key pieces of feedback we received was to seek to rebalance our spending between domestic and international activities. The 2021 budget has been constructed by the Board on that basis and a greater percentage of our funds has been allocated to domestic activities and development. This will enable PE to put more work into the development of pétanque at club and regional levels.
With the introduction of the President’s Medal which recognises the achievements of Pétanque England members, I would like to finish by announcing the recipients in the Pétanque England 2021 New Year’s Honours list.
- Mike Cubitt – In recognition of all the outstanding effort which was put in to organise and hold the PE National Championship events in 2020.
- David Plumhoff – In recognition of his efforts through the lockdown in keeping the members entertained not only with his on-line shooting achievements but also in his organisation of the Big-Shoot Off and other events.
- Toni Gates (NYA Lead) – In recognition of the continued support of our juniors and keeping them engaged and motivated throughout the whole Covid pandemic.
- Leicester Petanque Club – John Edmondson, Michelle Roe, Allan Edwards for their incredible fundraising efforts to build a new club / venue for the future.
Congratulations to all the recipients, their presentations will be made at a suitable time during 2021.
There has been a lot of good work carried out by many members so if you know someone who also deserves the award then please send me your nominations.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and successful 2021, where I look forward to seeing you on the piste!
Take care and stay safe.