It was a special farewell to a fellow team member returning home. What should have been a sad occasion was in fact great fun as he recounted his time with the club over the last year.

Eight months ago Benoit arrived at the club having taken a temporary job transfer. On arrival his work life was under control. But he had few if any social plans.

That changed the moment he arrived at Freezone Volleyball Club. We did our best to make the French Canadian from Montréal feel at home. He spoke with a strong French accent, so members automatically assumed he came from France.

We have four French speakers at the club — an innocent provincial French boy, an intellectual from Hong Kong, an Indonesian Francophile, and someone who pretends he is a French national when he’s in Paris.

We also have the Lil Indonesian who gathers players into his team, then takes them everywhere — the beach, tournaments, the Thursday night social competition.

Volleyball and badminton attract a large following of Asians from all walks of life. Our Thai members outnumber any other population subgroup.

Tian from Shanghai, with a very sound grasp of quality Aussie English, is assumed to be Thai because he plays with some of the Thai boys and the Lil Indonesian. He nods, agrees in English and pretends to be Thai.

For a whole year several of the new Thai arrivals at the club did not crack the Chinese code. Tian maintained the image for 12 months before informing his fellow players of the error in their assumptions.

We are sad to see Benoit go but at least we know his colonial French is partially understood by the Continentals, Orientals and Aussies who speak French with a really bad Dutch accent.

To get the warmest welcome in Sydney during Mardi Gras, get in touch with those who love balls more than you: Team Sydney has lots of choices:  www.teamsydney.org.au

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