HOMESICK migrants missing their wives and families back in Italy formed the Laguna Veneto Bocce Club in Dianella more than 50 years ago.
“A lot came from the same region [of Italy]. They had no family and started getting together playing cards,” Elizabeth Baldassar tells the Voice.
Keen to play traditional Italian bowls — bocce — the men leased a small plot of land in Wembley from market gardener Angelo Gava.
He became one of the club’s founders.
Throughout 1962 they laboured to build three bocce alleys, and meetings were held in an old garden shed. But the swampy ground reminded them of the Laguna di Venezia, and they had a fine sounding name for their fledgling club.
By 1970 the club had outgrown the garden shed, and when bocce became a nationally federated sport in 1971 there was no holding Laguna back. Negotiations with Stirling council kicked off for a proper home.
Strong community spirit and camaraderie saw members offer interest-free loans and free labour to construct clubrooms and bocce alleys at the flash new Yokine home.
Fundraising put more than $53,000 in the coffers and the Laguna Social and Bocce Sporting Club formally opened in 1980.
The club has hosted a number of senior and junior national championships over the years and membership is in excess of 400.
There’s competitive and social bocce, and a heap of social occasions such as the father and mother’s day lunches with traditional Italian food – the radicchio is grown on the club grounds.The swish club now boasts eight undercover rinks, and a statue of St Mark’s Lion — the emblem of Venice and Laguna — graces its Homer Street entrance.