16 November 2014

ALTO "Italians in Sport" Event

On Wednesday, 5th September 2014 ALTO hosted its inaugural “Italians in Sport” function, a sit-down dinner at Caterina’s Bar e Cucina at 221 Queen St, Melbourne. Caterina Borsato is a well-known and highly respected figure in the Italian community, due in part to her success as a restaurateur but also for the last decade hosting the Saturday night television show ‘Regional Italian Cuisine’ on Channel 31.

The night marked ALTO’s first ever paid event – generally it is important to the Committee that we make all our events as universally accessible as possible. Our 90 guests (completely packing out the restaurant!) were treated to two amazing courses, with entirely freshly-sourced produce.

Of course the reason all were gathered was to meet and to celebrate some of the great Italian-Australians who have contributed to the sporting landscape over the last 50 years. Italians have a rich history in Australian representative sport, at all levels in all kinds of fields. And so it was that we welcomed a very diverse group of people who have performed at an elite level. We thank SEN 1116 Radio’s Tony Schibeci for his generous offer to MC the event – he had literally stepped off a plane some 24 hours after covering the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Tony is a consummate professional and regaled the audience with his detailed knowledge of sporting history, and ability to interact with all our guests who come from such different sporting backgrounds. Each had a chance to interact with Tony in a brief interview before answering questions from the floor.

We were joined by former South Melbourne/St Kilda VFL player Silvio Foschini and his son Matt (former Melbourne Victory, currently Salgaocar FC in India’s Premier Soccer League), and each recounted their experiences growing up and moving into professional sport. Former Socceroos National Team player Simon Colosimo as well as Matt Foschini both enjoy playing in India’s Soccer League and had some interesting tales from their time on the sub-continent!

Carlton has a rich connection historically with the Italian community, and so it was that were lucky to have current Carlton President Mark Lo Giudice in attendance as well as a key club figure, historian Tony De Bolfo and long-serving Carlton star Andrew Carrazzo. Santo Pascuzzi is ranked in the Top 5 in the world for the sport of Bocce and explained to guests how he fell in love with the game, and his plan to help it thrive in the next generations of Italian-Australians. Tony D’Alberto and John Caniglia are starting up Team Italia Motorsport in the V8s in 2015, and were fantastic contributors to ALTO’s Sports Event. Gavin Crosisca (former Collingwood player) and Melbourne Storm General Manager of Football Frank Ponissi also came down and we appreciate their attendance.

The real highlight of the night was the presence and contribution of AFL Legend Ron Barassi to the evening. Ron had the audience in raptures and mesmerised by his tales on and off-field, from his past 60 years in football. We are grateful to Ron and his manager Max for being such a great support of ALTO and its various initiatives, including the upcoming mentoring program.

ALTO also wishes to thank Ian Deiana (Twelve Bottles Wine), Vilma D’Aprano (Di Bella Coffee) and Tony Muratore (San Pellegrino) for providing all the drinks for the evening. It’s the kind of generous support of Ian, Vilma and Tony that helps ALTO host such well-received Italian community events – we certainly encourage you to contact them if you have any needs. Caterina prides herself and her staff on taking visitors on a culinary journey of Italy, and at our ALTO event the food was first-class. Thanks to Caterina, her manager Shane, and all the staff for their outstanding hospitality and service throughout the night.

A terrific evening with great spirit and energy in the room – for those keen, we are already planning to run a similar event in 2015!

If you’d like to get involved with ALTO’s Mentoring Program or to support future ALTO initiatives, please email us: