BY NATHAN DUKE
A local bocce tournament is registering teams of three players for a competition in May at Francis Lewis Park in Whitestone.
John Buzzetti, president of the Whitestone Bocce Club, said that he expects approximately 12 to 14 teams to take part in the annual bocce tournament, which was previously held at Bowne Park.
The tournament kicks off at 8 a.m. and classes will be held after the tournament at 10 a.m., during which Buzzetti and others will instruct newcomers to the sport.
“They will learn all the rules and professionalism of bocce,” Buzzetti said of the classes. “But they have to be seriously willing to learn. I’ll be coaching and teaching them all the rules and regulations, the way it should be played professionally.”
He said that the classes are aimed at persons between the ages of 18 and 40 years.
“We want to recruit new young players,” he said. “The older players are fading out. We want to keep the sport alive.”
The entry fee to play in the tournament is $50 per person, which covers the cost of participation and food at the event. The classes are free of charge. Each team must have three players.
Buzzetti said that teams in the tournament are not just from Queens neighborhoods, such as Astoria and Corona, but from as far as Mount Vernon in Westchester County or Connecticut. The game is most popular among Italian Americans and Croatians, he said.
Recently, two teams from New York won the top prizes during a tournament in Las Vegas and Buzzetti said that local bocce players often take part in national tournaments. During the summer, the Whitestone Bocce Club frequently hosts games in the borough.
Buzzetti said that he has been playing the game for nearly 60 years— since he was 15 years old.
“The game is very strategic,” he said. “I like the competition amongst the players.”
The tournament will be held on May 20 at Francis Lewis Park, located Third Avenue and Parsons Boulevard. Those interested in participating should contact John Buzzetti at (917) 345-3743 or Leo Sosa at (718) 938-1026 by May 15.