Lou Masotti shares the story behind how he got into bocce as a sport, and how he has evolved as a player over the years.
My involvement in the game of bocce was coincidental.
My passion was soccer, and I played the game at school right through to adulthood. I played centre forward and was considered an above average player, scoring many goals for my team, due to my commitment, training and focus.
In 1966, I moved from Mackay to Bundaberg, purchased a cane farm, married, and my soccer days were over due to my business commitments and my age.
However, in the late sixties the Italian community built a sports club with the main sports being soccer and bocce. By this time I was over 30, never having played the game of bocce before, so I thought I would give it a go. And the rest is history.
History almost did not eventuate due to an unsportsmanlike event, and this is what happened: I went to the bocce club early Sunday afternoon to ensure that I would get a game.
In those days, there were no starting times. Players would turn up between 1pm and 2pm. When I arrived there were three players waiting for a fourth player to arrive. I told them that I would like to learn the game, they mumbled something like I didn’t have any experience and they would wait.
However, after waiting half an hour they asked me to play, with the proviso that I would leave the court when a more experienced player arrived. Reluctantly, I accepted.
My game lasted approximately 10 minutes then I had to leave. I almost didn’t go back, but in my mind I had already decided that I would enjoy the game so I persevered, and I am glad that I did because beside my humble achievements, I made many friends and enjoyed the game of bocce with great passion and commitment.
Favourite bocce event to play
My favourite events are singles and doubles.
I like singles because I put myself on a one-on-one basis, and I get to decide how to pay the game, and win or lose, it is on me.
Doubles is a wonderful game, especially if your partner is also a friend, and also because it is a very balanced team – a pointer and thrower complementing each other and supporting each other in all decisions, resulting in a lasting partnership.
Notable achievements in bocce sport
My achievements include: 16 Club Singles, 15 Club Doubles, 3 State Singles, 1 State Doubles, 2 National Singles, 2 National Doubles, and Best and Fairest Award, Australian Bocce Federation Life Membership, Across the Waves Sports Club – Hall of Fame, represented Australia in France in 1982, and Manager for the Australian Team in Monte Carlo.
Strengths and highlights of playing bocce
My strength is my pointing, and having the capacity to concentrate for long periods of time under pressure.
My throwing has never been my forte, but in 2005, it helped me to win the Singles against Walter by hitting six balls from six in the finals.
In 2015, I won the award for best and fairest. Wrapping up, 2005 was a great year for me, winning the Club Singles and Doubles, the State Singles, the Australian Singles, and the Club Lawn Bowls Singles. I will never forget the year 2005.
I am very passionate about the game of bocce because I am very competitive. I thoroughly enjoy a challenge and the camaraderie and friendship which I have made through the years.
Challenges faced by bocce players
Major challenges facing bocce has always been lack of new membership, especially among young players.
The downturn in numbers began when the immigration from Italy and other European countries began to decline.
Founding members and players failed to encourage their sons and daughters to play the game, though of my two boys and two girls, three now play bocce.
Of course there are other factors, which are well known. For instance, schools, colleges and universities offering an array of sports choices to the students, backed by the school system and the government.
Also, the more popular sports attract private sponsorship and television deals. It is almost impossible for bocce to compete against those odds.
Across the Waves Bocce Club in Bundaberg, Queensland started in the 1960s with approximately 35 players aged between 30 and 60. We lost most of those players through attrition and old age. Members’ sons and daughters did not pursue the tradition of their fathers and mothers, thus the membership dwindled.
What we did at our club was to canvass and coach other nationalities to keep the game alive. At the moment, our courts are always well patronised mainly by Italians, Croatians, Australians, New Zealanders, Maltese, Filipinos, Chinese, etc. The future of bocce in Bundaberg is in good hands.
Commitment to bocce sport
What one word describes me as a player is commitment – to the club and to the wellbeing of the players.
I have been a member of the Across the Waves Bocce Club in Bundaberg for more than 50 years – 45 of them as a hands-on president. I have seen many changes over the years, mostly for the better, and I am writing this as the current president.