Bocce on the Beach

2017 John Chalmers March 2017

By John Chalmers from the March 2017 Edition

A game with roots dating back to the time of the Romans was the latest sport to be played on the beach at Club Santiago, in front of the Oasis Ocean Club restaurant, at a festive event, on January 24, 2017. The first ever Bocce Ball Tournament was a fund raiser for the Animal Angels program of Friends of Mexican Animal Welfare (FOMAW).

“The program helps animals living on the street with medical care, food, medication and in our spay/neuter clinic here in Manzanillo,” says Stan Burnett, president and founder of FOMAW. “We started in 2009 and our goal was to assist Mexican animal welfare organizations to obtain funding to continue and improve their programs. The primary focus has been on spay/neuter services.”

Forty teams of two signed up with the 500peso entry fee for a day of the competition. Related to British lawn bowling, and essentially the same as French boules, the game of bocce is especially popular among folks of Italian descent and played widely in Europe and other countries. To start the game, a small ball is thrown in the court as a target, and players then toss the playing balls towards it to see who comes closest.

It’s not the purpose of this account to explain the game, but there is much to be learned on the internet, such as on this interesting and informative site:
Friends of Mexican Animal Welfare is a charitable organization based in Bothell, Washington and has distributed over $300,000 USD to over 10 different Mexican organizations. FOMAW operates a low-cost, high-quality clinic named Alianza Animal Manzanillo three days a week, performing about 10 surgeries a day, with 40% done for free in support of the Animal Angels street animal outreach program.

The bocce tournament raised nearly 180,000 pesos, enough to perform almost 500 sterilization surgeries. A donated basket of several bottles of assorted liquor, worth $200 USD, was raffled off at 200 pesos a ticket, limited to only 50 tickets, providing excellent odds of winning. The lucky winner was Dara Green from Kansas. A 50/50 raffle brought in over 27,000 pesos from ticket sales, with the winner receiving half that amount. Funds were also raised with a silent auction that provided the opportunity to bid on over 50 donated items, including art, restaurant dinners, merchandise and personal services. In addition, some 15 business and personal sponsors made financial donations.

Besides the clinic and Animal Angels services, FOMAW holds three continuing education courses per year in partnership with Dr. Susan Monger of International Veterinary Consultants for Mexican veterinarians involved with spay/neuter work. “We just completed our fifth class and have now trained around 35 veterinarians,” says Stan Burnett.

With a large crowd under beach umbrellas enjoying two for one pricing on cervezas and margaritas while eating lunch on the beach, the tournament was a total success. “We will most definitely do this again next year,” says Fred Taylor, one of the founders of Animal Angels and organizer of the tournament. Donations for the auction and sponsorships are always welcome. For information on donations and future events, Fred can be contacted at

While the Bocce on the Beach tournament may not be in the same league as the world championship bocce games, competition was brisk and competitive, a fun day for all. Winning the prize for Best Name of a team were Jamie and Deana Slack, calling themselves “Boccelism”!
Ultimate first place winners were Canadians competing as the “Sandbaggers,” Robert Page from Calgary, Alberta, and partner Darcy Myer from Parksville, British Columbia, were first-place winners. Their prize was a five course dinner from the Oasis Ocean Club restaurant. Second place team was the “Bocce Ball Bandits,” Duane Van Gheluwe and Art McKinnon, winning a $1000 peso gift certificate from Pacifica del Mar restaurant. Gordon Wilson and Dane Russo of the “Kowboys” team took third place and won three chicken dinners from Monkey’s Chicken.

Buoyed by the enthusiasm of competitors and the support for the tournament, organizers look forward to another event next year in support of a worthwhile cause. For more info about FOMAW, visit the web site at

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