Cousins show how its done

Trappings of success: Cousins Amelia Alesi and Kayla Dukes with their medals from the Australian Junior Bocce Open. The girls received great support from coach Frank Fava from Italian Australian Club, Morwell. Photograph Liam Durkin




NOT bad for little old Morwell.

Young gun bocce players Amelia Alesi and Kayla Dukes recently returned home with a swag of awards from the Australian Junior Bocce Open.

The cousins travelled to Queensland to compete in the two-day tournament as part of the Victorian team.

Of the five players that represented the state, three were from Morwell.

Amelia and Kayla were joined by Tommy Campbell (currently based outside the area) at the junior open.

Players took part in various forms of traditional bocce, including rapid and precision throwing.

For many, they had to learn on the spot or adapt quickly to different formats.

Kayla won the Under 18 double rapid throw event, while Amelia won the Under 15 version.

The performances were especially noteworthy considering Kayla was competing two years above her age group, while Amelia has been playing bocce for less than a year.

Having taken to bocce like a duck to water, the 14-year-old was recognised for her efforts by being awarded Under 15s best-and-fairest at the national junior open.

Amelia said it was a great thrill, and an equally great surprise to win the best and fairest.

Amelia got into the sport at the encouragement of her cousin, and nonna (Italian for grandmother).

Kayla’s win continued her meteoric rise in the sport, adding to her Under 15 singles title from last year.

Having now competed in three states along the east coast of Australia, Kayla is becoming familiar with the extended bocce family.

As well as her own performance at the junior open, Kayla said the friendships she has made through bocce were what stood out.

“It was really good (the junior open), good to see everyone again as well,” she said.

“I like doing singles, but this year I got to do more throwing and I enjoyed that more.

“Singles was pretty good, bit of tough competition but I think I did pretty well for Under 18s, doubles with Amelia we did pretty well, came third, and then precision, we never really trained for that so pretty proud of how we did for that.”

Kayla said she enjoyed learning new versions of the sport, and wished to thank those at her home club for their support.

“(We learnt) by watching everyone else, seeing what to do, we’d practised throwing before but never this particular event, so thankful for Frank and Sally (Fava) for teaching us how to throw.

“People usually think of it as like bowling a (lawn) bowl, they don’t really know that you can ‘throw’ it as well.”

Kayla and Amelia are set to travel to Sydney this month in the hope of gaining selection for the junior international in Monaco.