Well oiled wheel of camaraderie

By John Maslin

They met at university, forged friendships forever and it's events like the NZ Masters Games in Wanganui that keeps that bond alive.

They first met as players on the Canterbury University team in the late 1980s and now play under the banner of the Bishops basketball team. They use that name to honour their coach, Bob Bishop, who also coached the New Zealand men's team.

Time means the team members are scattered far and wide with two of the members flying over from Sydney and a third, captain Anthony Romano, winging in from his home in Milan, Italy.

"It [university] was the most enjoyable experience as mates and as a team you could hope for and we never lost touch with each other," Romano said.

"It was an unselfish team. We all worked hard for each other and we got results."

But even after they graduated and moved away from Christchurch, they maintained that contact. So events like the Wanganui Masters are vital to oiling that wheel of camaraderie.

Romano's career took him overseas for about 16 years but he returned in 2007. That was when these gym rats got back together and played Timaru Masters, then the World Masters in Sydney followed by the NZ Masters in Wanganui in 2011.

In fact, the River City games is the start of more globetrotting for the Bishops, with the team competing in Romano's new homeland when Turin hosts the World Masters in August.

For Romano, living with his Italian-born wife in Milan where his business is based, means he will have to travel the least distance to compete.

"We moved back to Christchurch but the earthquakes prompted us moving back to my wife's homeland."

He works mainly in the fashion field, and was general manager of the Luna Rossa syndicate during the 2007 America's Cup and has also headed Calvin Klein's European head office.

Romano is part of a good team which has an average age of 47. Among his teammates is Ralph Lattimore who played for Canterbury Rams when it won national championships, and also played for New Zealand.

"Everyone has great memories of their youth in sports and we often let that die when friends move on. But in the Masters age groups there's a chance to come back together," he said.

"Our weekend's only three days long so we tend to stay together and catch up on what everyone's been doing. We also do a bit of business mentoring as well. It's great."

Romano's next assignment is to find accommodation in Turin. He reckons something like a dormitory with plenty of room and a big kitchen will do just fine.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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