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The Alexandra Petanque Club celebrated its 20th year of play with the Coventry Tournament and an anniversary dinner on Saturday, with young up-and-coming talent joining the more established players.

Committee member Rod Woods, a former New Zealand representative pistol shooter who took up petanque three years ago at the invitation of his wife, said teams travelled from throughout Otago and Southland for the doubles tournament, with one team coming from Blenheim.

The Coventry Tournament began some years ago when members of the Coventry Petanque Club in England visited and played in Alexandra.

“It was arranged that an annual match would be played in commemoration of the visit,” Mr Woods said.

The Coventry club also plays for the Alexandra Trophy each year.

Two teams from the Dunedin City Petanque Youth League played on Saturday, with Jackson Gallagher (17) and Matthew Scott (15) coming fifth in a field of 26 teams, and Cole (CJ) Barnes (19) and Jennifer Sutherland (15) coming 15th.

Jackson said he knew nothing about the sport until his grandfather took him to play during school holidays about six years ago, and he enjoyed the mental and technical nature of petanque.

“It’s all about keeping your focus through a whole day and not losing your concentration, which can be hard on a hot day like this,” he said.

Jennifer said another attraction of the sport was how inviting and friendly the clubs and players were.

Stefany Frost, secretary of the Southern Region Petanque Association, said Dunedin had a strong youth programme running, with about 24 players, and Alexandra planned to start a youth scheme also.

“The future of any sport involves them having young people come through,” she said.

Petanque New Zealand had reinstated the National Youth Competition after about 10 years and it was “amazing” to see the interest from young players, Mrs Frost said.