Box lacrosse is booming in the US, but that’s not the only place where the game is really taking off. Box lacrosse is also becoming more and more popular in Europe. The ELL is now in its second year, and the Boxmania Indoor Lacrosse Tournament is also in its second year. Boxmania, however, is in France… and this marks a huge step for European Lacrosse. French lacrosse has come a long way in only a couple of years, and have a box tourney in Lille, FR, is a HUGE step.
We were lucky enough to speak with Billy Tauzin, the French National Team Coach, and Billy hooked us up with François Labbé, who puts the Boxmania event together! We said down with FL to get the full scoop on boxla in France!
First off, thank you for taking some time out to speak with us! Please give us some details on Boxmania in Lille! When is the tournament? Where will it be held? And is the first year for the event?
Boxmania is the annual Box Lacrosse Tournament in Lille. It will be the third edition this year. The first one was a single day event with only three teams, but the feelings for all teams were really good, so for the second edition we made it bigger. It was two days and eight men’s teams from the Netherlands, Belgium and France. We also hosted a women’s exhibition game to promote women’s Lacrosse.
This year, we want it bigger again. As we have only rone ink, we will still have eight men’s teams but we also invited three women’s teams for a small women’s tournament. At this time, a spot on the men’s side is actually still free! So if you’re interested in entering a team, get into contact with us!
The tournament will take place in the “Halle de Glisse, 343 rue de marquillie, 59000 Lille” and the dates are 12th and 13th of November.
So you already have 7 teams signed up, and they are from all over Europe! How did you spread the word about this tournament? Who was most interested in playing box lacrosse in France?
Spreading the word becomes easier year after year. Several teams from last year asked us to book a spot for them after the closing ceremonies last year! Also, the internet makes communication a lot easier for us. And as we play also field Lacrosse in Lille, we always talk about the tournament to the teams we meet on and off the field.
It helped us a lot to get teams for all over Europe. This year, England, Netherlands, Czech Republic and France will be represented, so my only question is; “why not another country soon?” Hopefully this year!
In Europe we still have only a few Box Lacrosse tournaments so we decided to organize our own tournament and it has worked! In fact a lot of players in Lille want to play Box Lacrosse and that’s actually how we started to play Lacrosse… thanks to the facility we use.
Perfect transition! Please describe the box lacrosse rink/facility you are using. What is its main purpose? How come you get to use it for box lacrosse?
The rink we are playing on is our training facility during the year even though we train a little outside also. It was originally made for Lille inline Hockey team which was (unfortunately “was”) in the first division of national championship. I was a inline hockey player at this time (but not a first division one) and also a member of the board of the club.
In 2006, when we decided to start Lacrosse, it became obvious that we should use the rink to train and grow and we are still playing on it today. Playing on a rink like this has a lot of advantages: quite economical in balls, and it’s easier to train shooting and passing for beginners. Also starting a team from nothing was quite hard, and playing Box Lacrosse (which requires less people) was a good way to gather enough players to play games.
From what I can tell, field lacrosse seems big in Paris, but box lacrosse seems to be King in Lille. Why do the two areas play different versions of the sport?
Due to circumstances, the Paris team was founded by field Lacrosse players, so they looked for a field and the Lille team was founded by inline hockey players who had a great facility. It was just kind of chance.
In Lille, we still want to play Box Lacrosse because we love that and also we want to be a part of the growth of Box Lacrosse in France and in Europe. The facility we use is almost perfect for that.
How long have they been playing box lacrosse in Lille, France?
Since the beginning of September 2006. We didn’t played real Box Lacrosse due to a lack a equipment and knowledge of the sport for a while, but now it has developed to a more organized point, and we want to keep working on box a lot, although we play Field Lacrosse a lot in tournaments or Belgian championships.
As we created the team from scratch and our head coach was youtube, we only have a small core of players who started at this time and they all want to give their passion for Box to new players.
Where are the refs coming from? Have all the players played box lacrosse before? Or will this be the first time for a lot of players?
Refs will come from the Czech Republic as they did last year. Having experienced Box refs has a huge impact on the way people play, and it makes us all better players to have great refs. Since the second edition of our event, we want to have that kind of ref at all our events, and the Czech refs are pleased to come and help us.
For a few players it will be the first time. But as we have teams which have already played in Boxmania, we also have a lot of players who know how to play Box. And this year, we will welcome Pardubice team (CZ) and even if I didn’t see them before, I can tell they really know how to play!
Is lacrosse becoming more popular in France? What have you seen that leads you to believe it will be more popular as time goes on?
It’s a hard task. Lacrosse in France is really unknown. When we walk down the street, a few people will ask us what kind of fish we can catch… Lacrosse may have a French origin in name, but the people who discovered the sport that the Native Americans played must have stayed overseas!
But it is still growing. There are two or three new teams are under construction, and we already have four established teams: Lille, Paris, Nevers and Lyon. Lacrosse will become popular, in my opinion, and it’s only a matter of time and help from the players. Lacrosse is really a complete sport and at the same time, it’s really quickly enjoyable for everyone. We still need more organization to lead the growth of the sport; we only have to be patient and it will work! I really believe in the growth of Lacrosse, and I have to as I am building my own company to sell equipment and promote the sport.
What is the future of lacrosse in France? Are people interested more by the field or box versions of the game?
As I said before, I think it will be more a question of circumstances. As an ex-hockey player, I know a lot of them and we plan to play exhibition box games to promote the sport. But on the other hand, it’s easier to get a field to play on and we usually demonstrate field Lacrosse.
We are working on every opportunity to develop Lacrosse: ice hockey clubs, field hockey clubs… only time will tell that version will be the most popular. Growth of Box Lacrosse might limited by the low number of rinks in France.
Another way to use our rink in Lille will be to work on wheelchair Lacrosse. One of the Lille players is the president of the Lille wheelchair basket club and we want to organize something quite soon.
Is there any plan for a French National box lacrosse team?
We have quite a lot to think about on that subject, and as the president of Association Française de Lacrosse (French Lacrosse Association), I would love to make it (as a player too of course!) happen.
It will be a lot of work to organize it, and to try to match the level of established play will be difficult. In my opinion, we are not ready yet but it will come.
How many American/Canadian players are coming over to play in the event?
At this time, I actually don’t know. Paris has a few American players on their team, but I don’t know about the other teams. If you know anyone who wants to come, just tell him! (Editor’s Note: Want to go play box in France? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll get you in contact with FL!)
How long have you been playing lacrosse? Where did you learn the game?
I have been playing Lacrosse for 5 years now as I created the team in Lille. I learned the game by myself and through internet videos. Then Paris had a few experienced players to teach us a few things and they brought a lot to us.
After that, playing in the last European Championship in Lahti, and the World Cup in Manchester and various other tournaments, helped me learn a lot! Now I (and the other players) can more easily teach Lacrosse to the newcomers. And to be honest, I’m still learning!
Are there any youth lacrosse events in Lille? Or is it all adults for now?
Lacrosse is for adults right now. However, each year we participate in a sport event in Lille to show Lacrosse and we always have a lot of success with kids. We plan to have clinics for children in the very next future. The growth of Lacrosse will depend on it.
Mercí Beaucoup, François!