Boules Ireland began in 2016 with a willingness to spread a game that embodied community in one of the most divided countries in Europe. A game that brings together young and old alike, I was inspired by the local efforts in France in attempting to integrate every member of society, no matter who they were, through the game of Pétanque. For me however, it will always retain that colloquial epithet; Boules.
Boules is a game played nationally in France, very similar to bowls (a popular sport among the older generation here in Ireland) with 3 metal balls and a smaller, wooden target ball known as the cochonet. The aim of the game is simple, land your ball as close as possible to the cochonet, and whoever’s team has a Boule closer to the cochonet once all of the balls are thrown earns the point. Extra points can be earned if a team has multiple Boules closer than their adversaries. It is played with anything between 2 -10 players, (although competition rules sometimes state the maximum number allowed is 6) and can be played on a variety of surfaces, like grass, gravel, or sand.
“A game for young and old alike, Boules can be played pretty much everywhere”
With over 10’000 registered members competing in the annual Mondial la Marseillaise de pétanque alone (a grand tournament held in Marseille), and millions of amateur players all over the country, it’s safe to say the game is overwhelmingly popular. Indeed the sports widespread appeal to all ages and the fact that, for the most part, it does not need designated facilities is one of these reasons it could prove to be popular here in Ireland.
Pictured above: (clockwise from left) Virgil, a local Boules player of St André de Roquelongue, and Somhairle Greene, Founder, Boules Ireland
My vision was clear: Through keen use of social media and using my experience in photography to produce high quality digital media content, I would establish a grassroots campaign to build interest and enthusiasm in Boules, with the eventual aim of hosting local tournaments and strengthening the player base here in Ireland.
In order to do so, I began the project by travelling to France for a weekend, photographing a game of Boules in the local Boulodrome of the village I was staying in, and the adjacent vines to highlight the game’s flexibility in terrain. Check the shots out below:
During my time in France, I devised the social media strategy I planned to implement. While I knew it would takes months or maybe even years for the concept to really come to fruition, I knew I could still lay a good base by getting the social media campaigns off the ground. Using the photography as a showcase, I created an Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook page to showcase some of my favourite works from the shoot, with great reception.
I recorded a short podcast outlining the inspiration behind Boules Ireland and intentions for the future, hosted on Soundcloud. You can listen to it here:
In addition to this, I also built a website to showcase some of the photographic works. You can find the links to the social media networks there too on the homepage. In terms of the creation of the website itself, only my own images were used.
While the campaign is only getting started, I hope to have laid a solid base for a bright future for Boules in Ireland! Receiving 60 Instagram followers in one day was a great achievement, and gave hope that there is indeed an interest and enthusiasm for the sport here. I am fully confident that Boules Ireland can continue to go from strength to strength in the coming weeks and months.
We hope you’ll be there to join us.
Marseille: Plus de 13.000 participants au Mondial la Marseillaise à pétanque. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://www.leparisien.fr/marseille-13000/marseille-plus-de-13-000-participants-au-mondial-la-marseillaise-a-petanque-01-07-2012-2072973.php#xtref=https://fr.wikipedia.org/