A long legacy of Bocce

The Newmarket Bocce players after a recent competition. Mario de Marco pictured kneeling at the front.

We had the pleasure of catching up with the Secretary of the Newmarket Bocce Club, Mario de Marco to learn a bit more about the sport and his involvement. Read our interview below:-

How long have you been playing bocce?

Well, I remember playing as a teenager. My father built a bocce court at home, which doubled up as a driveway for my XW Ford Falcon Sedan. He had boards along the side so we could play off the board in a difficult shot. There were boards placed at either end, my father had screwed on rubber car tyres. The main reason was for it to act as a noise buffer, but when you played a ball, you could actually bounce the ball from the back and it would travel forward and sometimes take the shot. Back in those days, it was no-rules-bocce. This was before the National Bocce Federation was incorporated. I then got interested in ten pin bowling and did that for 17 years. I was quite good at it, earning myself a cabinet full of trophies and patches to show.

I was introduced to bocce at the Australian Italian Club at Carseldine by my brother-in-law. You would remember it as the Tavernetta. Beppi Sari was in charge of bocce and I remember Marco Stefanuto, who at the time was a Queensland junior champion. That was in the mid 1990’s! As you know, the land was sold, the beautiful bocce courts were torn down, and the rest is history. So, I moved over to the Italo Austalian Centre at Newmarket. I was a committee member when Gianni Cappelli was President. I was President in 2008 & 2009 and have been secretary for 10 years. We currently have a great committee who are dedicated to the club.

What is it about bocce that you enjoy so much?

It is a game of skill, being able to accurately bowl a ball to take the shot from your opponent. It’s a game of stamina especially when you play a competition and you are playing all day. It’s a relaxing game, not physical. Bocce is a lively game providing fun to people of all ages and you only need minimal equipment, a set of bocce balls , a club polo shirt, and off you go!

Bocce is also a forum to meet people, make friends, and enjoy a drink during and after the game. We play Wednesday and Friday nights, Tuesday morning, and Sunday afternoon (by arrangement), so it is a good mid-week break away from work and hustle and bustle of life.

How many members in the club?

We have about 60 members. About 26 members play bocce, some social and some competitive. The Special Olympic team trains on Thursday nights. These juniors are just fantastic.  We have the Baby Boomers club where there are up to 20 participants. Some play bocce while others play cards. They have a great time. Anyone is welcomed to attend. The cost is $2 per person. They attend Wednesday mornings.

Unlike New South Wales and Victoria where Bocce is BIG, here in Queensland it never took off. Unfortunately, in the early days, there was no program to get younger players to play or to train new players. Of course, when the Italian Club went into liquidation 2006/2007, nearly all the members left. We have two original members in the club. The club had some great players and have even boasted a fantastic women’s team.

So, yes it is difficult to get junior players because of all the other interactive sports out there. But our club will not give up on junior players as all ages are welcomed to join.  The Queensland Federation has developed a junior program.

How many bocce clubs are there?

There used to be about six bocce clubs in South East QLD, however they have all gone and we are the only surviving club left in Brisbane. The other is Redlands Bocce club in the Redlands City Council precinct.

We are determined to keep it going, but it is a very hard ask. Without sponsors and a few more members we may not be around in a few years’ time

Where from here?

Well, that’s an interesting question. The game is multicultural with about 50 countries involved, but it was an Italian migrant in the 1900’s that brought the game to Australia. We are trying to get all cultures involved. We will keep going as long as possible and as long as there is some interest in the game. Come and have a try?

If you are interested in learning more about the game of Bocce or joining the Newmarket Bocce Club, call Mario on 0403257325 or President Tony Giacoboni on 0412386617

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