The northern beaches of Sydney has a very large Italian community. A major proportion of these people come from the southernmost region of Italy known as Calabria.
The idea of having a club for the Calabrian people had been around for decades. We have always desired a common place to socialise and to keep our traditions alive for future generations.
For nearly 5 years, Tom Mastroianni and Mick Pascuzzo have been discussing the idea of a Calabrian Club and how to get it started. Pat Barbalace joined the discussion for a few years, then another four people were approached; Adolfo Aiello, Mick Pangello, Nick Greco, and Vince Agostino. Their first get-together was at Mistro Mare restaurant in Seaforth, owned by Pat’s brother Michael Barbalace.
The first official meeting took place at L’Argenta Function Centre, Dee Why on the 28th of may 1998 and was attended by the seven founders of the Association. These seven people had numerous meetings and with the help of lawyer, Nick Papallo, the Calabria Social and Sports Club was officially registered on behalf of the above people on the 19th July 1998.
Upon registration of the Calabria Social Sports Club Inc. the founders invited anybody associated with the Calabrian community to attend the first General Meeting of the Club on the 10th July 1998 at L’ Argenta Function Centre Dee Why. The meeting was chaired by Nick Papallo and attended by more than 100 guests.
The inaugural function of the Calabria Social and Sports Club – “The Calabria Night” – was held at L’Argenta Function Centre Dee Why. Attended by over 400 people, the evening was a huge success. A further 100 new members registered on the night.
The board of directors worked tirelessly for months in conjunction with Warringah Council in order to find a suitable Clubhouse for its members. After many site inspections of existing clubs, in June 1999 we were fortunate enough to be welcomed by the Manly Vale Bowling Club.
At our new club house we have introduced traditional spaghetti nights and traditional card games from Calabria. Our first major function in the Clubhouse was on the 16th October, 1999 – a Sea Food Night prepared by master Chef Giorgio Colosi of La Perla Restaurant on Victoria Road, Gladesville. The entertainment was by a traditional Italian band playing both Italian and English music and singing. The evening was attended by 350 members and guests. Through an association with italian Events, we now have a regular calendar of Italian evenings for friends and family to celebrate in the ways of our heritage.
A wood fire pizza oven was installed and the kitchen refurbished, now known as The Calabria Pizza Cafe, the restaurant has operated under a few names but has always provided first class Italian food for our members
A few years ago, one of the bowling greens was converted into two Calcetto courts. The 5-a-side football competitions are now a major part of the sports activity at the Club. The bowling green was also upgraded to an artificial surface.
In 2009, we hosted the inaugural Sydney Multi Cultural Festival. This two and a half day festival promotes multiculturalism and celebrates cultural diversity in the greater Sydney area and, in particular, on the Northern Beaches. It brings together members of a wide range of ethnic communities for a celebration of the achievements of all. Multiculturalism is showcased through the sharing of food, music and dance, performances and demonstrations of cultural traditions. On the weekend of the 24th and 25th of March 2012 we hosted the fourth festival.
After eleven years at Cambell Parade, it is time to turn our attentions to the Club premises. Many of the facilities are very tired and out of date. For the Club to move forward we must present a better face to our membership. On each table there are copies of the plans for renovation and extentions to the buildings. Hopefully tonight we can move a giant step forward towards the realisation of this ambitious project.