Tony Mann Profile

Tony has been one of the club’s leading members for many years, and is currently National Secretary of the English Pétanque Association (EPA).

Here’s his long-awaited ‘profile’.

How long have you lived in Brighton/Hove? For over 20 years. Born and lived in Romford till 18, then in London (Chiswick, Hammersmith, Chelsea) before moving to Brighton.

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When and why did you join the club? Did you play pétanque before? Joined with my partner at the time in 2006, both of us having never played before and looking for a new social activity.

How do you like pétanque? It has to be one of the most inclusive sports around that allows people or different ages, genders and abilities to all play together. It’s a very simple game that never ceases to provide new challenges in play and tactics.

What boules do you use? I use Obut ATX, 74mm diameter and 690g in weight.

What position do you usually or prefer playing? At club level I’m expected to be the shooter but when I was invited to join a national team I was told I would be the pointer, I had to earn the right to shoot! This helped me improve my technique and confidence at pointing. Petanque is a team game and I’m confident and happy playing in whatever position is best for the team and changing positions within a game if need be.

Do you prefer triples, doubles or singles? As stated, I see pétanque as a team game so do not enjoy singles for that reason. I enjoy both doubles and triples but the enjoyment comes from the dynamic of the team. By that I mean not necessarily playing with the best players but playing with people who play as a team and not as individuals.

What have been your pétanque highlights so far? There have been so many but here’s summary:

•Representing Sussex at Inter Regional Championships in 2007

•Silver Medal at Eurogames in Barcelona in Singles in 2008

•BHPC Player of the Year 2008

•BHPC President 2008 and 2009

•Nominated for City Sports Awards – Volunteer of the Year in 2008

•Nominated for City Sports Awards – Active for Life Participating Award in 2009 and         achieving Highly Recommended status

•Qualifying as a pétanque coach in 2010

•Joining the EPA Management Committee in 2010

•Representing England at Home Nations in 2011

•Becoming EPA National Secretary in 2011

•Playing in the number 1 seeded team with Ian Maynard and Alan Constable for Sussex at the Inter-Regional Championships in 2013 and finishing as best performing team

•Being Team Manager for the England Women Espoirs (ages 18-22) at the European Championships 2013 and seeing them become the first ever English Espoirs team to qualify for the Finals

•Being Head of Delegation for England at the Home Nations 2013

•Being Team Manager for the England Women’s team at the World Championships 2013

What has been your involvement with BHPC? Club President in 2008 and 2009. Membership increased from 43 to a record 109 during my term in office. Helped to create a thriving community based club and improved both social and competitive opportunities for members. Helped put BHPC on the pétanque map by hosting well-run Club Open, Regional and EPA National events.

What does being EPA National Secretary involve? Well, unlike what a certain David Alfred has been heard to say, it’s not just about “admin”. It’s hard work, members assume you are available 24/7 and some think it’s my full-time paid job (if only!). It’s about working effectively with a small team of volunteers spread all over the country. I’ve forged a great working relationship with our National President, Mike Pegg.

One of the hardest things for me to accept is losing my identity. To many I’m no longer Tony Mann but the EPA National Secretary and a valid target for venting frustrations. The work is demanding but also very varied. It’s not just about minute taking and agendas. I’ve been instrumental in reviewing, updating and creating lots of our Association’s policies and procedures. Work on many sub-committees including Finance, Club Development Aid, National Junior Squad, Coaching Commission.

I’ve organized and run many National Competitions from the EPA EuroCup for Clubs to the EPA Over-50s; dealing with disciplinary procedures and mediating in disputes; making arrangements for team kit, flights and accommodation at international events. 2013 also saw me managing teams and being Head of Delegation for the Association.

The EPA has over 2700 members and my role is to represent and ensure that all of our members’ interests are looked after and not just those of the elite players or those who shout loudest via social network sites.

How have you found being Manager of various English teams  at international events? It’s been a privilege because for both teams (Women’s Espoirs and Women’s) I was asked by the team members themselves to manage them. It’s no picnic! I was managing the teams both on and off the terrains. They all know how to play so my role was not about technique but about strategy, tactics, team selection, keeping them stress free, motivating, handling pressure dealing with negativity both on and off the terrain, and managing the highs as well as the lows.

What are your other interests? Have had many from theatre to the arts and collecting Dicker pottery but many have taken a back seat with the exception of music. I have very eclectic tastes from Jazz to Punk to Classical. My most influential artists to date have to be Nina Simone, Marc Almond, Antony & the Johnsons and Arvo Part. Top 5 albums from 2013 are:

1) John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

2) Villagers – Awayland

3) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

4) Devendra Banhart – Mala

5) The Staves – Dead & Born & Grown

Other close favourites

Alexander Wolfe – The Trench (soundtrack)

Mazzy Star – Seasons of Your Day

Emiliana Torrini – Tookah

Can you tell us something that (most) club members don’t already know about yourself. I used to write and perform poetry. Have performed across London and once at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival aged 22. Have had poems published in this country as well as in the USA and, bizarrely, in Denmark!

Is there anything else you’d like to say about pétanque or anything else? I love this sport and the opportunities it can provide. What other sport can you start (at any age) and play for your county region the following year, and represent your country a few years later? I have met and made friends with so many other people equally passionate about the sport, initially within the club, then regionally, then nationally and now all across the world. The pétanque community is really a terrific thing and something I love being a part of.

How would you like to see the club develop?  I would love to see the club return to focusing on the development of the sport of pétanque. BHPC is a great club with a great history and legacy. The club is not unique in the challenges of balancing the needs of social versus competitive players. The club has a fantastic and vibrant social side. However for my own personal development in the game I’ve been lucky to have been invited to form teams by players outside of our club and region and this has helped me to develop and enjoy the sport at another level.

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4 Responses to Tony Mann Profile

  1. Raymond Ager says:

    Fantastic profile and fantastic achievement. Tony, I have a follow-up question(s): with you experience at club, Regional & National level, do you think it is better to build the sport from club level upwards or for the EPA to develop from the top down? How do you think the EPA could better help clubs develop and how do you think clubs could contribute more to the EPA?

  2. Tony says:

    Hi Ray. First things first, who is this EPA? In my mind the EPA (English Petanque Association) is all of its components who are its members. Just because I may have a position on the National Management Committee I am no more or less a member of the EPA as someone who plays only at club level. So WE are ALL the EPA.
    However to answer you question to build a sport such as petanque which is a minority sport in England you need a structure. The structure is provided by the national governing body which is the EPA. The EPA as an Association is recognised by the European and World petanque governing bodies and important organisations such as Sport England and the Sport & Recreational Alliance in this country. We receive no funding and the EPA Management Committee (EPA MC) are all unpaid volunteers.
    And to build the sport at a “grassroot” level the role that Clubs play is vital. They have all the local based knowledge and access to potential funding at a local level (Council) that would be impossible to gain at a National level.
    Resources and finances are required to develop our sport. We are reliant upon volunteers and limited funds and what the sport achieves at National, Regional and Club level is quite amazing. So in my view everyone from the EPA MC, Regional, Club and individual members plays an important part in developing our sport.
    Your last question was what the EPA can do to better help clubs and vice versa. Good question! Personally I think it breaks down to a few key components: Communication, Engagement, Participation
    Communication – the EPA MC needs to communicate to all of its members what we are doing and where we are going. I hope in some part that I have helped improve the communication channels. At our next AGM we will be presenting a 5-year plan of how we wish to develop our sport.
    Engagement – through improved communication comes a better understanding of our Association and with a better understanding members should hopefully feel more engaged beyond just their club level
    Participation – improving the communication and member engagement what will hopefully then follow is more participation. By this I do not just mean from a playing perspective but also members volunteering to help run their Club, progress to their Region and potentially to the EPA MC.

    Thanks for you questions Ray and look forward to seeing you again soon!

  3. Pat Connolly says:

    Great profile – ~”a poet and I didn’t know it!”

    Pat

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