Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Off to China games

Maria to represent Australia in new style of bocce

September 3, 2014 3:50am

Maria Greco is getting plenty of Raffa practise ahead of her trip to China with husband Joe for the World Bocce Raffa games.

Maria Greco is brushing up on her Raffa skills after securing a position in the Australian team for the World Bocce Raffa Games in China.

Mrs Greco was selected for the competition after plans for a women’s bocce team to compete in France did not have the necessary numbers and the Bocce Federation of Australia approached her.

‘‘Because we didn’t have the opportunity to go to France, they said would I like to compete in China instead,’’ Mrs Greco said.

‘‘They approached me and asked me to tryout. At first I wasn’t sure because I haven’t played Raffa before, but I got a bit of a push from Joe and the kids to give it a go. I had to play for about three hours to prove I had the skills and they selected me.’’

Raffa is a new style of bowls quickly gaining popularity in Australia while being widely played internationally.

Described as a mixture of bocce and lawn bowls, this is the first time the Bocce Federation of Australia has selected a women’s team to compete at the games.

Alongside Maria will be Diane Penney from Morwell, Grazia Letizia and Leah O’Neil from Mt Gambier, and coach Frank Fava, who is heading Raffa competitions in Rome.

Maria said while she had yet to practise with her fellow teammates, she was making sure she trained as much as possible before the games start next month.

‘‘I have been playing about three or four times a week for a couple of hours a day, around eight to 10 hours a week,’’ she said.

‘‘What I have to practise is the different surfaces because in Australia we play on sand courts, but in China they play on synthetics, more like lawn bowls. So as far as bowling is concerned the ball moves really fast, so I have been practising at the Kyabram Lawn Club and in Shepparton.’’

With the games in the southern chinese city of Kaihua, about 300km south of Shanghai, Mrs Greco said she was looking forward to the cultural experience and having a holiday once the team had played.

‘‘I think the experience will be really great and really interesting and we probably would never have gone to China without this,’’ she said.

‘‘After the games we will probably spend another week there to have a look around, I would love to see the Great Wall, so maybe we will head north.’’

Kyabram Bocce Club president Pat D’Aulerio together with the club’s committee has approved the construction of a temporary Raffa court for Mrs Greco to train on and have invited anyone within the community to come along and try their hand at the sport.

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