General News

23 May, 2023

Fresh start for Mareeba club

A NEW committee of fresh faces has taken over the reigns of the Mareeba International Club after a special meeting was called last week to discuss the future of the historic club.

The next generation: The new executive committee of Mareeba International Club Kristen Mete, Kimberley Jennings and Connie Martens
The next generation: The new executive committee of Mareeba International Club Kristen Mete, Kimberley Jennings and Connie Martens

Following nearly four decades of leadership under Gabriel and Grace Tallarico, the club recognised the need for fresh perspectives and knew it was time to appoint a new executive committee.

Three local women stepped forward to take on key roles, with Kimberley Jennings assuming the presidency, Kristen Mete becoming the treasurer, and Connie Martens serving as the secretary.

The meeting, which was officiated by Carl Portella and Lui Garozzo, saw 30 people in attendance.

In his opening statement, Mr Portella reminisced about the club's heyday when locals would gather for hearty meals, slow dances and games of pool or bocce.

He said he hoped current and future members of the club would make memories like these again and challenged the new committee to bring the club back into it’s prime for the next generation.

“With new blood and new enthusiasm coming in, (the new committee) can do whatever they want,” he said.

“I remember when I was a part of the club some 25 years ago and we use to have pasta nights with up to 400 people, we would have fiestas and cabarets and they were phenomenal days.

“I understand that times have changed, and our parents and grandparents have passed on and are unfortunately no longer with us and unfortunately we have found ourselves in a position where a lot of the younger generation no longer want to come to places like this because there is nothing here for them.”

Offering inspiring words about tradition and the club's significance, Mr Garozzo emphasised the importance of imparting the history of Italian migrants in the region and the reasons that brought them together.

“I would love to see more historical items showcased in this building moving in the good things that show the tobacco history and I know there’s stuff like this around in our community and we should be doing something to show more of what we did,” he said.

“We should be proud of it and show what we all did and keep that level of history alive.”

During the meeting, tradition emerged as a prominent topic, and Ms Jennings expressed her commitment to preserving it while also incorporating elements that would resonate with the new generation.

“I have been working here for the past year, coming in and out… and we are a different generation however, I think it is important to add this additional life,” she said.

“I think it’s important to have a mix, whether your 20 or 80 of traditional things and new things because I think it is important to the community but for our next generation.

“I’ve got two kids and Ms Mete has four and there is nothing here for people like us and would love to open the bar up and have music and have something to eat.

“So, I think it is really important to open to different suggestions as well as and not modernise it or change tradition but bring people to do what’s achievable.”

Ms Mete echoed Ms Jennings sentiments, underscoring the necessity of a gathering place for the next generation.

Fondly reminiscing about her own childhood, where she would doze off under the pool tables at the International Club, she expressed her hope to raise her four children within the club, instilling in them the significance of tradition and culture.

Future plans for the club were briefly discussed and the committee also briefly explored the possibility of hiring an external chef for special events.

However, the primary objective remained opening the club to everyone, irrespective of their heritage, to ensure a welcoming environment for all to enjoy.

Mr Tallarico thanked the past committee and members of the club for their hard work and dedication over the past 40 years and wished the new committee all the best for the future


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