Italian visitor powers up local team in seaside volleyball tournament

THE South West Pirates division two men’s side will have a secret weapon for this weekend’s Warrnambool Volleyball Association Annual Seaside Tournament. 

Among the players is 19-year-old Gianni Grassi, an Italian who is spending 12 months in Australia. Luckily for the Pirates, he’s handy on the court. 

Grassi plays in one of the top levels of competition in Italy. 

In comparison to Australian competition, he would be playing at the highest level of the Victorian State League. 

Grassi hails frowm Prato, near Florence, in the region of Tuscany and decided to spend time in Warrnambool and the south-west after family friends moved to Killarney. He said while the main reason for his visit was to experience the Australian culture and master the English language. He is also happy to be spending time on the volleyball court. 

“It’s my passion, I’m really enjoying playing,” he said. 

“I’m really looking forward to playing in the tournament. We are a very young side, but it’s a good group and they are good guys. 

“I don’t think we will be that strong but hopefully we can win some games.”  The spiker has also trained with Victorian State League side Heidelberg and said a move to Melbourne was on the cards. 

“I liked them and they liked me,” he said. 

“I just need to make a commitment to regular training with them. Hopefully in the next month or so I will find a job and be able to move to Melbourne and play with them regularly.”  Warrnambool Volleyball Association’s Dave McConnell said he had spoken with Heidelberg and they had indicated Grassi would be a premier division player.

“He’s a gun. We’ve really enjoyed having him around,” he said. “It’s been good for our younger guys. Gianni is a pure volleyballer, it’s his first sport of choice. We don’t really have that here. 

“It’s good for our younger guys to see how he plays and goes about it.” 

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