IN a show of support Morwell Bocce Club has handed hosting rights of the Bocce Australia Raffa Open over to the Sydney-based Club Marconi, after a surge of interest in the sport across New South Wales.
Raffa bocce – played with coloured unbiased bowls, which the player can bowl or throw to knock the opponent’s bowl away and make a point close to the jack, or bounce the bowl off the side boards for a placement – is gaining popularity, according to the local club.
The Marconi club in Bossley Park will host the seventh annual event on Saturday and Sunday for the first time, after Morwell held the event for the past two years.
Demand for the event has forced Bocce Federation of Australia and Club Marconi to limit the number of teams to 18 triples to ensure the competition is completed within the scheduled two days.
Morwell’s Italian Australian Social Club Bocce Committee secretary Sally Fava said it was the club’s choice to allow the New South Wales club to host the event this long weekend.
“We’ve got (the event) for five years, but because of the interest in raffa in NSW, we got together with Bocce Federation of Australia and decided to have a year’s break and allow these NSW people to experience raffa,” Fava said.
The triples teams of men and women players will compete for $3000 in prize money and is expected to draw players from New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
The Sydney club players – Joe Rozzo, Joe Maraffa and Joe Morgante – were the 2013 winners at Morwell’s event and are the “team to beat”.
Rozzo also captained the 2012 Marconi team to victory, qualifying them to represent Australia at the World Raffa Bocce Championship in Argentina that same year.
Fava said the Morwell club would send three teams; Benny Alesi, Mirella Alesi and Tony Paolini; Felice Maselli, Maria Maselli and Gino Montuoro; and Sam Finocchiaro, Lioni Finocchiaro and Margaret Paolini to the event.
“We hope to do well. They’ve been training and we’ve only got the three teams going up and the rest are from New South Wales and South Australia,” Fava said.
The event will return to Morwell next year.