THE Italian Australian Club, Morwell/Gippsland Bocce Centre were treated to an intimate training session by the Federation of French Sport-Boules recently.

Dubbed the French International Coaching Tour Down Under, it sees a three-part series of Australia versus France in Victoria, as well as Queensland and New South Wales.

The tour stopped off in Morwell last Wednesday (February 21) at the Italian Australian Sporting Club, which happens to be the number one regional bocce club in Victoria.

Bocce Australia has had a relationship with the Federation of Internationale de Boules (FIB) for many years now, with both nations linking up on multiple occasions when visiting each other’s homeland.

International: Bocce President Mary Pagano, Italian Australian Club President Sam Carbone, French players Pauline Gouiloud and Frederic Marsens, French coach Jean-Yves Peronnet and Morwell Bocce Club Secretary, Sally Fava. Photograph supplied

Bocce Australia and FIB Vice President and President of the Asia Oceania Sport Boules Confederation, Tony Biancacci was in Morwell when the French visited during their tour, and explained the importance of the relationship between the two countries.

“We are one of the fortunate countries that France has offered to assist in developing the sport,” Biancacci said.

“Being a continent on its own, the Asia-Oceania region – quite a large region, the presence of the sport is not as prolific as it is in Europe or South America.”

The reason that Morwell itself was highlighted was due to the fact that it was the number one regional bocce club in Victoria.

“We favoured this club because of its presence with the support work done by a various number of people involved with the sport in a local area,” Biancacci said.

“They have been terrific in developing the sport, they host quite a few events throughout the year, so we decided to support them.

“This club has also nurtured a number of players that have played at the (Junior) World Championships over the years, so it is a fairly established club in terms of sourcing young players.”

A number of Morwell bocce players have left an impression overseas, in both juniors and seniors, which only highlights the dedication to development by Morwell’s club.

At one stage in time over the last 15 to 20 years, this very region was considered the centre of expertise for juniors in bocce.

The FIB showcased some of their best talent by bringing two of their world champions and a coach to assist with some developmental training.

French coach Jean-Yves Peronnet was joined by players Pauline Gouiloud and Frederic Marsens, each of them providing private one-on-one and group training before a series of events.

Peronnet started his bocce career in 1994 and was the National Development Director of the French Bocce Federation from 2009 until 2021. Just last year, Peronnet was revealed as the director once again.

Gouiloud is a gold and silver medallist for France, while Marsens has a very distinguished record – three gold, three silver and one bronze at club, European and World Championships.

Expert: French bocce medallist Pauline Gouiloud putting the Morwell players through their paces. Photograph: Tom Hayes

Morwell Bocce Club’s Maria Maselli was honoured to have such presence at the club, admitting that even an experienced bocce player like herself learnt some new things.

“It’s a big honour to have the coaches (and players) come to the Valley. It’s the only regional place that they’ve gone to,” she said.

“It was a great experience. I’ve had the one-on-one with them and just the way they put things is just so different, and I’ve already learnt things that I didn’t know, and I’ve been playing for 20 years.

“They’re world champions, and we’ve never had that experience here before, so I think it’s fantastic that we were able to get them here in the Valley.”

Now it’s up to the bocce players from Morwell to put those new skills to use and put in the hard yards to ensure the game of bocce is going in the right direction in Australia.

The FIB started their Australian tour in Brisbane for a week, then Sydney and now Melbourne.

In their visits to each state, at the end of each training session a challenge was set upon the groups – Australia versus France. The French completed the best-of-three series by winning in Queensland and NSW.