The privilege of representing China at the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships in Denver was a spectacular experience and a memory I will have for lifetime.
As a Canadian citizen, participating in the tournament as a member of the Chinese national team meant more than representing where I was from, or where I had been born and lived my entire life. It was an opportunity to get in touch with my heritage, meet new people, travel and explore parts of Asia, learn about China and Chinese culture, and lastly, the chance to Grow The Game.
If you saw the Chinese lacrosse team walking anywhere around Denver, you would have had no idea it was the first week several of the players (including myself) had been with the team. The core group of Chinese nationals did everything they could to ensure their new, North American teammates felt like they were just as much a part of the team as anyone who hopped on their 11 hour flight from Beijing to the Denver National Airport.
Having the North American players on the team definitely made the trip to the United States more enjoyable for the Chinese nationals. We were able to educate them when it came to explaining North American customs, help them order food when went anywhere to eat other than Jason’s Thai restaurant (an authentic Asian restaurant on the DU campus), and teach them a lot about lacrosse as few had ever seen the game played at such a high level.
On the flip side of things, the reason the experience will be such a well-defined memory in my own mind is due to the Chinese players. Never have I had the pleasure of playing with a group of such friendly athletes. Every player on the team was incredibly easy to get along with put the team before themselves.
The handful of players who are fluent in both Mandarin and English were able to translate everything between the players who could not grasp what was being said by different people at different times. Our team would not have come nearly as far on or off the field if it weren’t for those individuals and their efforts to keep us all on the same page.
Our mangers and staff were incredibly organized and were always doing what they could to make the tournament as enjoyable as possible. I have yet to play on a team where every player has been so eager to learn about the game, practice as often as they did and have such a strong desire to improve any way they could.
Selecting so many Chinese nationals for the team and bringing them to a tournament of such magnitude and importance really emphasized to China how big the sport is in other parts of the world. The number of countries competing in this year’s games compared to that even four years ago showed how rapidly lacrosse is growing and seemed to really spark the teams aspiration to improve.
After participating in last year’s ASPAC tournament in Beijing and seeing how much the core group of Chinese players have improved, I can promise there is a bright future for China lacrosse. The exposure on the world stage China received will surely influence more Chinese people to play lacrosse and with the current push to get the sport added to some school athletic programs, things look promising.
Playing with this group of guys and watching them improve so much over our week of games reminded me of what it was like growing up playing lacrosse and really made me appreciate everything this game has done for me. This tournament has really fueled my desire to not only continue playing lacrosse, but to stay as involved with lacrosse in China as much as possible.
One of the slogans for China Lacrosse is “Lacrosse makes friends!” It has surely done that for me and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
This was an unforgettable experience and I can only hope I have the chance to help China improve on our world ranking in the 2018 games in Manchester.