Best of the best: Counting down the top 10 Australian bocce moments of 2023

Best of the best: Counting down the top 10 Australian bocce moments of 2023

Counting down the top 10 Australian bocce moments of 2023

As we stand on the threshold of another thrilling year in the world of bocce, let’s embark on a journey to celebrate the iconic moments that have shaped the narrative of our fantastic sport. The stories that unfold on the bocce courts become a part of our folklore, etching themselves into the history that future generations will undoubtedly cherish.

The past year has been a tapestry of emotions, with moments ranging from the poignant and disappointing to the uplifting and inspirational. Each of these instances contributes to the rich tapestry of bocce history, creating a mosaic of experiences that define the spirit of our sport.

While I’m excited to share my top 10 memorable moments of the year, I also want to acknowledge that there are countless other stories that, while not making it into the official ranking, are undoubtedly deserving of mention. These moments, whether big or small, contribute to the collective memory of our bocce community.

As we take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months within the world of bocce, it becomes apparent that our sport, like any community, has experienced both highs and lows. It’s crucial for us to acknowledge and learn from these diverse experiences as they shape the landscape of our sport. While challenges and setbacks may have occurred, it is the resilience and shared joy within our community that deserve our attention and celebration. The sport is bigger than the individual and it is more important to learn from these situations. It is with this mindset that I wish to acknowledge the positive moments that for me, made 2023 memorable.

Although not in my top 10 the following people are worthy of a mention as we leave 2023 behind. In the spirit of positivity, I want to shine a light on the remarkable individuals who have dedicated their lives to volunteerism and played pivotal roles in shaping the bocce landscape across three states. Mirella Mancini, David Marks, Frank Palermo, Andrea Ramondino, and John Venettacci have all made significant contributions that deserve recognition.

Mirella Mancini, whose dedication, and passion for bocce have been truly inspiring, has decided to step down after an illustrious journey. As she passes the baton, we warmly welcome Antonia Zotti and the new-look SA Bocce committee. We are confident that under their guidance, bocce in South Australia will flourish, embracing new opportunities and fostering the spirit of camaraderie.

In Victoria, we bid a farewell to David Marks and Frank Palermo, whose five plus years of dedicated service significantly contributed to maintaining the sport through challenging times, including the impact of Covid. Stepping into this new chapter, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Laila Favrin and her newly appointed committee for Bocce Victoria. Already, they have introduced innovative initiatives aimed at revitalising the sport for all Victorians, showcasing a dedication to progress and inclusivity.

However, we also acknowledge the closing of a chapter in Tasmania, as Bocce Tasmania has decided to end its journey. John Venettacci and Andrea Ramondino, whose unwavering commitment has been invaluable, no longer have the membership will to continue. We express our gratitude for their efforts and the positive impact they’ve had on bocce in Tasmania. There involvement with the sport will truly be missed, by myself any many others.

So, as we move forward and gear up for another exciting year in 2024, let’s open the floor for discussions. As you celebrate your Christmas with family or your mates, share your favourite moments, the stories that resonated with you, and the experiences that left an indelible mark on your bocce journey. Together, let’s weave a narrative that captures the essence of our sport and ensures that these stories endure as part of bocce folklore.

Here’s to the sport we love, and the moments that define it! So, let’s get to it – let the countdown begin to the No.1 bocce moment of 2023, and relive the big moments. Starting from ten and working backwards to my number one bocce moment of 2023, they are:

10. Celebrating Bocce at the Australian Masters Games

10. Celebrating bocce at the Australian Masters Games

I am thrilled to kick off our countdown by celebrating a momentous occasion that may not have received the full appreciation it deserves within our bocce family. My number 10 pick is the Australian Masters Games event, a true spectacle of sportsmanship and camaraderie.

Thanks to the good work of Antonia Zotti and her SA bocce team for securing bocce again in the Australian Masters Games.

I also want to extend special thanks to Bocce Australia’s Bocce-Raffa coach and referee, Franco Fava, for his invaluable presence and support on-site. Franco’s willingness to lend a helping hand exemplifies the collaborative spirit that makes our bocce community truly special. His expertise and dedication undoubtedly added immense value to the event, and we are grateful for his contributions.

Despite any under-appreciation, their commitment to showcasing bocce on such a grand stage is commendable and vital for the continued recognition of our sport within the Australian sporting landscape.

The Australian Masters Games stand out as a multi-sport festival, drawing over 10,000 athletes from diverse backgrounds and age groups. This dynamic event features a rich program encompassing more than 50 sports, ranging from softball and athletics to bocce and weightlifting. It exemplifies inclusivity, offering something for everyone and emphasizing the universal appeal of sports.

Bocce’s participation in the Australian Masters Games not only showcases our sport but also reinforces its place in the broader sporting community. The event serves as a testament to the importance of promoting an active lifestyle and fostering friendship through sports. Let us appreciate the vibrancy of this dynamic sporting community and recognize the Australian Masters Games for its role in bringing people together through the joy of competition.

Here’s to the Australian Masters Games and the impact it has had on promoting bocce and a healthy, active lifestyle for all.

9. Chiara Tomasi - A rising star's journey to excellence in bocce

9. Chiara Tomasi: A rising star’s journey to excellence in bocce

I am excited to share my number 9 event, highlighting Chiara’s outstanding performance at the Bocce Australia Nationals Championship. Despite only playing the sport for a couple of years, Chiara, a junior player, shone in the Women’s Senior Championships held in June at Club Marconi.

In her debut at a senior championship, Chiara not only showcased exceptional skills but also took home the Best and Fairest award and a silver in the Bowl Throw category. Her remarkable achievements, considering her relatively short time in the sport, signal great promise for her future in bocce.

8. Franco Fava: A bocce maestro's legacy

8. Franco Fava: A bocce maestro’s legacy

This year, our Bocce community celebrated several accolades, notably Diane Penney’s GippStar award and Sonia Fava’s FIB Appreciation Award. However, the highlight was Franco’s induction into the member category for bocce in the Latrobe City Sporting Hall of Fame on August 24.

Franco’s Bocce journey includes roles as a successful player, coach, and referee, making him a vibrant figure in Australia’s Bocce history. He coached many juniors to national and international success, and his involvement in championships expanded to include playing, coaching, and eventually becoming Chief Referee for Bocce Australia.

In 2018, Franco secured silver in both singles and doubles at the Asia Oceania Bocce-Raffa Championships. Mayor Kellie O’Callaghan praised Franco’s contributions, especially in establishing Morwell Bocce as Australia’s premier Raffa club. The mayor congratulated Franco on a well-deserved place in the Hall of Fame, recognising his significant impact on the local Bocce community and sporting history.

Dipper’s impact and Morwell Bocce Club

7. Dipper’s impact and Morwell Bocce Club

A heartfelt thank you to the Morwell Bocce Committee of the Italian Australian Social Sporting Club and Bocce Ambassador Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico for their outstanding fundraising efforts at the Latrobe Classic Event in support of our Australian Junior Bocce Team.

Despite his busy schedule, Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico generously donated his time, immediately returning from Queensland to assist with the fundraising event in Morwell. In just under two hours, Dipper successfully raised over $1000, contributing to each junior athlete’s expenses for representing Australia at the Denis Ravera International Challenge in Monaco this year.

The Morwell Committee and Dipper’s generosity have made a significant impact on alleviating the personal costs for our young athletes, showcasing a commendable commitment to supporting the growth and success of the Junior Australian Bocce Team. Thank you for your invaluable contribution!

The Bocce Conference - Uniting minds, inspiring progress

6. The Bocce Conference: Uniting minds, inspiring progress

After a hiatus spanning over 20 years, Bocce Australia, under the leadership of John Inglese, successfully hosted the Bocce Team Challenge and Bocce Development Conference. This landmark event, coordinated by John’s subcommittee with assistance from dedicated individuals such as Sonya Velo, Dino Mikolic, Angelo Parisi, Tony Palermo and additional presenters on refereeing by Vanessa Allegretto, Joe Maselli, and future bocce programs by Linda Chiandotto, and several guest speakers, marked a significant milestone for the sport.

The conference laid out a clear pathway for implementing the Bocce Team Challenge, aiming to enhance the sport’s entry and progression from recreational to elite levels. The collaborative efforts of the organising committee and guest speakers have not only revived a long-dormant initiative but have also set the stage for a structured and inclusive approach to developing Bocce from grassroots to elite competition.

This event signified a commitment to the growth and development of Bocce in Australia, providing a framework that ensures accessibility and progression for participants at all levels. The engagement of key individuals and the wealth of knowledge shared during the conference has been instrumental in reinvigorating Bocce and fostering a bright future for the sport in the country.

Samsa Sweep: Precision and Gold Domination at Nationals

5. ‘Samsa Sweep’: Precision and gold domination at Nationals

The Samsa family left an indelible mark on this year’s Nationals, showcasing a remarkable display of dominance. Spearheaded by David Samsa, father of Daniel and Nicole, the Samsa name resonated throughout the event. However, it was Daniel Samsa who truly claimed the spotlight, securing the majority of the men’s events with an impressive tally of over 8 gold podium finishes.

Daniel’s stellar performance was marked by top-tier precision in both bowling and throwing, earning him well-deserved acclaim. His consistency and excellence in multiple events underscored not only his individual prowess but also the collective strength of the Samsa family in making a significant impact on the Nationals.

The Samsa family’s success stands as a testament to their dedication, skill, and the enduring legacy they’ve established within the Bocce community. Congratulations to Daniel and the entire Samsa family on their outstanding achievements at this year’s Nationals.

Michael Pevere carries on the legacy

4. Michael Pevere carries on legacy, wins bronze in Precision Throw at Denis Ravera International Bocce Challenge

In upholding his family’s proud legacy of Bocce prowess, Michael Pevere showcased his skills at the Denis Ravera International Bocce Challenge, in Monaco, securing the Bronze in Precision Throw.

His achievement is a testament to the transformative impact of dedication and disciplined training, proving that a steadfast commitment to the sport can yield remarkable results on the bocce courts. Michael’s success not only adds another accolade to his family’s impressive bocce history but also stands as an inspiration for aspiring players, highlighting the tangible rewards that come with hard work and genuine passion for the game.

In addition to celebrating Michael’s success, I want to acknowledge and commend the upstanding performance of all our juniors and young athletes at these World International Championships. Many have surpassed their personal bests, a testament to the dedicated hard work of our coaches, led by Stefano Chiandotto, Angelo Parisi, David Pevere, and Linda Chiandotto (assistant coach). Their guidance and mentorship have undoubtedly played a crucial role in nurturing the talent and potential of our young athletes.

Let us continue to celebrate the achievements of our bocce community, recognising the hard work, dedication, and passion that contribute to the success of individuals like Michael Pevere and the collective progress of our young athletes.

Congratulations to Michael and all our talented juniors for their outstanding performances!

Transforming Kyabram Bocce Club into a Hub of Bocce-Raffa Excellence

3. Transforming Kyabram Bocce Club into hub of Bocce-Raffa excellence

Under the visionary leadership of Joe Greco and his dedicated Kyabram Bocce Club committee, the once quiet bocce club has undergone a remarkable transformation into an impressive venue for Bocce Raffa competitions. The introduction of the weekly Bocce-Raffa challenge has not only revitalized the club but has also drawn players from various regions and communities.

Joe’s efforts were duly recognised earlier this year when the club hosted the prestigious Australian Bocce-Raffa Open, attracting athletes and players from far and wide. Among the participants, two young athletes, Liam and Oliver McInnes, stole the limelight. Having previously mastered lawn bowls, they seamlessly transitioned their skills to Bocce-Raffa, offering a promising glimpse into the future of the sport.

The McInnes brothers, the youngest Bocce-Raffa players in Australia, became a highlight of the event, captivating spectators every time they stepped onto the court. Despite their initial nerves in their debut game, they exhibited remarkable competitiveness and secured victories in 2 out of 7 games, finishing a commendable 6th overall. Their performance not only showcased their talent but also instilled hope for the continued growth and success of Bocce-Raffa in the community. Special recognition goes to Joe Greco and Liam and Oliver for their outstanding contributions to the sport’s future.

Breaking boundaries: Special Olympics Bocce takes centre stage at Nationals

2. Breaking boundaries: Special Olympics Bocce takes centre stage at Nationals

In a historic move, Bocce Australia embraced inclusivity by introducing an ‘all-inclusive’ National Bocce Championship, featuring the inaugural addition of Special Olympics Bocce and affiliated clubs. This groundbreaking initiative aimed to position bocce as the preferred sport for all communities, genders, ages, and abilities. The event saw the enthusiastic participation of 40 Special Olympic bocce athletes and affiliated clubs, making their debut in a national elite competition.

The inclusion of Special Olympics Bocce at the Nationals was a significant milestone for Bocce Australia, emphasising its commitment to fostering diversity in the sport. Michael Migliaccio and dedicated Bocce volunteers played a crucial role in seamlessly integrating Special Olympics Bocce into the mainstream Nationals.

Witnessing the joy and competitive spirit of the athletes and their parents during the Bocce Nationals was truly heartening. Special Olympics Australia CEO, Pierre Comis, expressed satisfaction with this inclusion, marking bocce as the third national sport in Australia to embrace Special Olympics. This year’s Nationals not only celebrated athletic achievement but also set a remarkable precedent for inclusive sportsmanship and unity in the Bocce community.

A beacon of fair-play and respect, crowned top bocce moment of 2023

1. A beacon of fair-play and respect crowned top bocce moment of 2023

In the realm of bocce, the standout moment of 2023 was the remarkable emergence of 13-year-old Samuel Roberts, a budding talent whose sportsmanship and conduct both on and off the courts left an indelible mark. Samuel’s exemplary behaviour also caught the attention of Chief Referee Joe Maselli, prompting him to propose a special award in acknowledgment of Samuel’s outstanding on-court demeanour and sportsmanship.

Maselli, moved by Samuel’s consistent display of respect, including applauding opponents after each game, emphasised that the recognition goes beyond skill—it’s a testament to Samuel’s admirable character. The unveiling of this special acknowledgment not only honours Samuel’s current achievements but also stands as a beacon for others in the bocce community to follow.

As we anticipate Samuel’s continued development and growth in the sport, his story serves as an inspiring example of the positive impact fair-play, can have on the bocce community. In Samuel Roberts, we witness not just a player but a beacon of fair play and respect, setting the stage for a promising future in the world of bocce.

Congratulations to Samuel Roberts for being my standout bocce moment of 2023.


Article written by Frank Funari, president of Bocce Australia.