Happy Easter, everybody!
Today, our Events Group and our Lead Members for Men, Women and Veterans are publishing an updated 2021 Calendar and our International Selection and Qualification document.
This Calendar replaces the one we previously issued that was overtaken by the lockdown we experienced at the beginning of the year.
It’s not been easy for PE officials and organisers at local, regional and national levels with the uncertainties of COVID-19 but we hope that we are now on a route where restrictions will be eased in line with our Government’s expectations.
We’re delighted to see our members back on the pitch as shown by the many pictures we’ve seen on our official Facebook Group. Keep posting them!
We cannot be completely certain still that we will be able to fulfil our events programme, but like many amateur sports we will do our utmost to prepare for a full return to play. The importance of play being as safe as we can make it remains a big priority for PE as the National Governing Body for the sport.
We stress again that all our players, clubs, leagues and regions should adhere to our Play Safe Guidelines. That way we can keep each other safe and enjoy pétanque.
Supporting and developing our youth and espoirs remains as always a high priority and despite not being able to play, our coaches have been in constant contact via virtual means to encourage and engage with our young players.
The National Calendar has a number of events scheduled for both our youth and espoirs players and we invite maximum participation. Our coaches work hard to set up events and coaching opportunities, we hope to see increased numbers of young players as we get our sport up and running again.
The 2021 Calendar contains our National Titles events which will now form part of a new National League, where players will earn points in the designated competitions. A document explaining how the National League will work will be issued very shortly.
The National League has been set up to have as wide appeal as possible and has a format where players of all abilities can join in and have a great experience on the pitch.
The National League will include all formats of our sport and will be both gender-separate and mixed. In fact, you could say that we have every way of playing our sport covered! We’ve also set up one competition, The National Shotgun (which will be doubles or triples depending on entries), where players of different genders and abilities will team up for what hopefully will be a great event on August Bank Holiday Monday.
While we’re talking about the National League, it’s not too early to make sure you have the right kit in place to compete.
So many of our members nationwide love the playing and social experience of our annual Inter-Regional Championship and Challenge tournament. We are working hard to make that happen in early September but we’ve heard just this week that it’s not going to be possible to organise that at the intended new venue at Pontin’s Lowestoft.
Given we can’t run with a residential weekend at a single site, we are currently investigating a venue where our players stay nearby off-site at hotels and other accommodation and then arrive to play each day. This is how we have successfully ran our National Titles Weekend over May Bank Holiday for years.
As we’re planning to make the Inter-Regionals happen in a different way this way, that’s why our Calendar has space for our Regions to hold their qualifiers as they traditionally do, using ‘regional days’.
We will keep all our members updated on progress, so look out for updates from our Events Group in the near future.
For PE members who aspire to represent our country at international level, it’s also been difficult for our National Performance Panel (NPP) to work with our squads and plan for the future.
While there remains the possibility of major international championships taking place in 2021, there are substantial doubts about these due to the continuing restrictions on international travel and the fact the tournaments themselves bring together players and teams from all over the globe. The key problem remains the varying rates of COVID-19 infections in different countries and the implementation of the vaccine programme.
In light of this, a decision has been made that we will not travel to international tournaments outside of Europe during in 2021, meaning that regrettably we will not be participating in the Women’s and Youth World Championships scheduled for November 2021.
We will await updates on the remaining European-based Championships involving our Youth, Espoirs Men and Veterans. As previously communicated by NPP, we will only consider sending a team if we consider the conditions to be safe and our teams adequately prepared three clear months in advance of the commencement of each tournament.
The good news is that despite the significant doubts about international competitive play in 2021, we have ensured that in our domestic calendar there will be competitive play for our Men, Women and Veterans who aim to play for England.
The domestic programme is in place in the Calendar to find those players that will join respective squads to prepare together for international representation in 2022, where there a full and exciting programme is in prospect. Players that compete and excel in 2021 in our International Squad Selection & Qualification events (SSE) will join our squads to prepare for international representation in 2022.
We invite all our male, female and veteran players to sign up for the competitions we have planned and we are sure that our SSE events will showcase some of the highest level of play in our sport anywhere in England in 2021.
We are positive about the return to play and are working hard on our national events to relaunch our sport. We hope that as many of our members as possible will join in as we celebrate our return to the pitch!