As a result of Covid-19 restrictions since March, the group has had to limit the number of our twenty-six members playing at any one time, initially to six, later rising to twelve as the social distancing rules were gradually reduced from 2 metres. We are playing to guidelines laid down by Pétanque England and are optimistic that, as we are an 'outdoor organised sport', we will be permitted to continue in this vein, possibly even rising to our self-imposed limit of sixteen players using the two rinks. This has yet to be agreed with Seacourt.
We have had to adopt sensible modifications to our method of play to help stay safe. Payments for the hire of the rinks and for refreshments from the Club House are paid by contactless debit/credit cards. One upside from our current arrangements is that, in theory, any member of the group can now organise a match at any time on any day. In practice, one of our members, Bill Tait, who cycles from Bedhampton every time to play (weather permitting), has landed himself with organising teams meeting three days a week at present. He has also developed an impressive spreadsheet which he maintains in order to monitor (and he hopes equalise) card payments by all the players.
On balance we believe the group has been able to cope with lockdown far better than we originally envisaged that we would. We have also had several U3A members expressing interest in joining the group. To these, we would ask them to be patient as we cannot increase our present membership until we come out of lockdown and the number of our currently 'shielding' members return to play.
Geoff Hollis and Steve Walker (Joint Group Leaders)
This is an article published in the Autumn 2020 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter .