A record number of WPA members are involved with the 2013 Trans Tasman match in Newcastle (18/19 May) as either players, coaches or selectors.
They were asked to provide some background to the match under the heading
Preparing for the Trans Tasman. Their responses appear below in the order they were received.
Dirk Winnie (Open Women), Richard Turfrey (Senior)
Bob Bridge (Open), Sharon Cannon (Open), Peter Hamilton (Senior), Barbara Johnston (Open), Shirley MacDonald (Senior), Bob McCarthy (Senior), Margaret Mordecai (Senior), Graeme Morris (Senior), Ralph Priddle (Senior), Christine Strichen (Open), Claire Wilson (Open)
Rex Hayes (Senior Men), Joan Miller (Open & Senior Women), Graeme Morris (Open Women), Barbara Whittington (Senior Men), Dirk Winnie (Senior Men, Open & Senior Women)
My triples partners are Claire from Masterton and Joanne from Auckland. My doubles partner is Tina from Christchurch. Team practices will have to wait until the Thursday and Friday before the tournament. My triples team did really well at the National Triples and we were very pleased with our efforts.
We all know each other quite well so that always helps. It will be a matter of communication on and off the piste and supporting each other leading up to and during the tournament.
In the mean time I will just continue my training at home which will be happening everyday up until I go.
My preparation for the Trans Tasman this year has been attending the many tournaments on offer around the North Island. Twice a week I also get in as much shooting practise as I can.
Since I am playing with people that don't live close to me, the main team practices will be in Australia on the Thursday and Friday before the Trans Tasman starts.
I am sure the combinations will work as we have know each other's play well. I have either played with them or had battles against them. But our Triples team did play together for the first time at the PNZ Triples at Park Avenue in April and we finished 3rd equal in the Trophy.
I am indivdually practicing my pointing and shooting, and part of my training included the Club National Champs in Rotorua and the WPA Women Singles Tournaments.
My triples teammates are Barbara and Tina. And am with Barbara in the doubles. I have played many times with Barb so we are like comfy slippers. As a triples team we played a few games together at the selection camp and that worked very well. Since then I was out of action for a few weeks and our next run together was at the nationals. Coming in not fully fit I was very fortunate to have such supportive teammates. It was a good workout for the upcoming challenge of what I think will be a strong Australian Team. The following two weekends I played 2 day tournaments which has been a good preparation.
Now daily practise is my aim until I head off to Oz. I spend 2 thirds of my time on shooting and 1 third on pointing.
My other preparation leading up to TT involves what most sports people do and that is keep up fitness levels, good nutrition, rest etc. Really important is the mental attitude - lots of positive affirmations.
Building our team (triples) is difficult. I am with Neville Frost from Caversham and Bob McCarthy from Otaki. I have played in the national doubles with Neville for the last 2 years and the national triples with him for 3 years so we know each other well. The three of us played in the recent national triples and we worked well together.
I have been playing a lot of pétanque in the last 3 months - every weekend in very competitive tournaments (e.g. national club champs and Wellington Interclub plus regional and national triples). Masterton also holds the Jacques Cochonnet trophy at the moment and I have been playing those matches as well. Because I have travelled a lot in the last few months for family or work I have not had as much time for individual training but I practice on my home piste when I get a chance. I have been working on fitness as I believe it is very important at this level.
I am playing with Ralph from Masterton and Andrew from Christchurch. It is hard to build a team when we are so spread apart but we know each other and each other's play well.
We will spend some of Thursday and Friday practicing and playing together.
In the meantime I will be going through my same routine with my own practice.
Neville Frost (Caversham) & amp; Graeme Morris are my triples partners and until the selection camp I had only played with Graeme once and not at all with Neville. However, I felt really comfortable with them both in our trial games and this continued in the National Triples where we played as a team.
I have played in all the Regional and National Tournaments where possible and practice at the club for an hour per day as well as on our own piste at home when time permits. I really enjoy playing pétanque and am looking forward to my first Trans Tasman.
Marilyn Bunce (Alexandra) and Shirley MacDonald (Horowhenua) are my triples partners and although I have only played with Marilyn in the National Triples I play with Shirley whenever possible.
Apart from Club days I practice 3-4 days a week, mainly pointing exercises.
I have played most tournaments where possible over the last year with my playing partner Bob McCarthy.
My preparation for the Trans Tasman has been attending as many tournaments as possible, and I'm concentrating on technique, consistency and tactics. Also I'm working on remaining more relaxed through my throwing action.
I'm looking forward the the TT, and feel with Margaret M and Marilyn, we will be a force to be reckoned with!
I am really looking forward to sharing the experience of the Trans Tasman Challenge, with the Senior Team. Although this is my first experience coaching an international team, I have been involved with many of the players through the inter regional events; The Southern Tri Star with which I have coached the Wellington Seniors 3 times (First in Dunedin, third in Christchurch, and Second in Wellington); and the Chanticleer, where I have played with and against several Senior players.
Although the NZ Senior Team is well spread throughout New Zealand, the players are very experienced and able to train to their own individual regime. I am not here to influence the way they perform their shots. However, I will support and encourage them through their tournament, both on and off the field.
If I have a particular strength, I believe it is in helping an individual to choose how they feel and interpret a situation. Even when the chips are down, and you are up against it, you still have a choice as to how you perceive the situation, and what you do to remedy it.
When I’m not playing Pétanque, I am usually thinking about it. I am definitely passionate about the game. I also run my own Insurance advisory business in Wanganui, and my other passion is fishing on the beach with the surfcaster chasing Snapper.
For the upcoming Trans Tasman Tournament I will be wearing a number of hats, not least of all the one that protects my bald head. (I can already hear the Pieman taking the mickey out of anything that I may write.)
Probably the least important role in the whole process. However, saying that it is also one that I hold with pride and look forward to representing all our players, administrators and supporters. I would like to acknowledge now the work that all PNZ members involved have put into their preparations to ensure this tournament is a success, despite the result.
There are others who may join with Pete and put the boot in here! Before I proceed with how it works I want to acknowledge David Lippard, Trevor Neilsen and Murray Porter who were the initial architects of the selection process.
Also Michael Emerson who has added value to this process. This has been tweaked in minor ways following feedback from the players every year.
This is arguably one of the most difficult roles that I have performed with the PNZ. This is clearly an area loaded with emotion and it is one that I have taken very seriously. I believe that the decisions that I have been involved in have been made after rigorous assessments of the data available and observations of the players in game situations.
Players put a huge amount of effort and energy into their attempts to get selected and it is important that this is acknowledged, however at the end of the day the selectors task is to pick the best team from the available players. The last selection event that I was involved in, the Open Women, took four hours after the last boule was thrown until we were satisfied that we had made a fair selection.
For me this process hasn’t finished as from the Trans Tasman team I have been tasked with selecting the Women’s team to go to the World Champs. Currently we don’t even know when or where these are. This task is incredibly difficult as the competition for places is extremely intense. I have the information from the qualification tournaments, the selection weekend, National Triples results and a training weekend that we have had in Masterton. Often these results add further complications. I will be looking very closely at performance at the Trans Tasman to assist in making a final decision. Some of the games that the team plays will be assessed to give additional information.
What am I looking for? Essentially I am trying to build a well balanced team that will be able to perform with credit at the top level. The individual range of skills each player brings to the team, contribution to the team dynamic and performance on the piste will all inform the decision making.
The easy part. Particularly with the team that I am working with this year. I have been privileged enough to have worked with most of them before and it is a privilege. They are all focussed players, intent on performing to the best of their ability and representing their country with pride. I see the coach as being an integral part of the team as we work towards a common goal. Building this attitude is important to the long term success of the team. Each player will have their own aspirations and goals. My task is to meld these aspirations, goals and dreams into the tapestry of our team.
As a coach and selector I am reminded of the words of the great poet W B Yeats:
…I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
While those sentiments guide me I am also aware that there are times that hard decisions need to be made and I will not shirk from those. My job is to be a part of an effective team playing with and for each other.
Coaching is an incredibly draining exercise, I play each boule, and am amazed at how well I played it, make incredibly accurate tactical decisions that will leave us in a commanding position when the boules come to rest and then have to move on when the reality doesn’t always match the intention. What I do know though is that every player that I have been involved with in a coaching capacity is intent on playing the boules in a faultless manner. You all have my utmost respect and I wish you the success you deserve in pétanque.
As I mentioned earlier I have been very privileged in my petanque. I have had some great opportunities and made some great friends. Undertaking the roles outlined above is my chance to say thank you and give something back, hoping my effort and energy complements yours.
Played a variety of hard competition since selection, and try to keep my hand in between tournaments and club meets by throwing a few boule when I can, concentrating on the basics, but I have to admit I get bored practising on my own.
I enjoy competitive pétanque and am looking forward to another TT, playing with Pete Hamilton and Andrew Findlay and meeting up with the Australian players again.
Masterton Pétanque Club is the club I belong to and like to represent. But I live in the Far North and the nearest pétanque club to me is in Auckland – four hours drive away – so mostly I train alone at home. I practice for one hour every morning and one or two hours every evening after dinner, predominantly playing six boules against six boules and keeping score for both teams, pointing and shooting as required for both teams. It seems to work for me.
I am playing with Aucklanders' Dez Grant and Alan Heron in the Trans Tasman Triples: I have been down to Auckland and played with them in open club tournaments and we also came third equal in the recent National Triples – so have jelled well. Bill Peachey and I will be doubles partners and were permanent doubles partners for several years so again know each others play well. Claire Wilson and I will be mixed doubles partners – first time playing together – but both from the same club and have played on the same club team several times and played against each other many times, which makes me totally confident in Claire’s pointing and think she will be confident in my shooting, so we should give the Aussies plenty of hurry up: anyway that’s the plan.
With my petanque experience over 17 years, playing in 5 Trans Tasman Seniors, this knowledge and expertise gained has helped me as a selector for the 2013 Senior TT team.
Australia have no desire for us to gain a 6th consecutive win over them and they will be all fired up to beat us, making this a close challenge. It is pleasing to see the hard work that the NZ team have done for this coming event and I would like to wish them all well.
As we say in Wellington – be ‘absolutely positive’!
Being a selector for the senior and open women, especially with the calibre of the women is a arduous task, but also a very enjoyable one.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish the manager, coaches, and teams all the very best of luck.