Editor’s Note: Ron Garcia of Philippines Lacrosse just got back from Costa Rica, where he and his team were on a game growing mission. See below for a whole lot more on their experience, and where the focus was during the trip.
It is hard to believe that only one year ago, our president, Josh Acut, wrote the LAS piece, “The search is on, Philippines Lacrosse.” Since then, momentum has built tremendously. We recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica to play a friendly game against the Costa Rica National team, and wanted to come back on LAS to update everyone on the experience.
Although I really didn’t know what to expect on this trip, I had a feeling that there were going to be some challenges. There were many logistical items to figure out, from each player managing their own expenses, to finding Americans to fill out the squad, but the Costa Rican team generously helped us figure things out and ultimately, this trip greatly exceeded my expectations.
Justin Manjares (PLA Director of Outreach) and I arrived a day earlier than the rest of the team to get the lay of the land. Costa Rica Lacrosse picked us up at the airport and got us hooked up at a hip hostel. We immediately felt the humid air and took in the culture while hanging out with a few Costa Rica team members.
On the next day, we picked up the rest of the team and then made our way back to the hostel for a team meeting. Everyone was pretty excited to be in Costa Rica to grow the game, play some lacrosse, and really experience the culture, all while meeting a lot of great new people.
We had a few events/activities planned before our big showdown on Sunday. So, the following day, we woke up bright and early and held an inter-squad practice/clinic with Costa Rica team. We did a few drills and played an inter-squad scrimmage. With most of us not fluent in Spanish, it was great to have lacrosse as a common ground for a group of players coming from very different backgrounds.
I’ve never seen so many smiling faces and was glad to see that our guys were forming friendships with Team Costa Rica. After practice, we headed out to go ziplining for a team building exercise. If you’ve never been, it’s a must.
Finally, it was December 9th, game day. We had a 9am start at Labrador stadium. It was a great day for some international lacrosse and high energy. I was amazed to see about 150 fans waiting to cheer us on. The Costa Rican crowd was incredible, cheering on both teams with equal fervor.
The teams lined up facing the crowd, paying homage to our countries and the national anthems played, and then it was game time. From the start, Costa was aggressively going after a win. Thankfully, we settled into our offense pretty quickly and I’m proud to report that I had the first goal for the Philippines in an international game. Both sides fought hard for a victory, but I’m happy and proud that Philippines Lacrosse came out with the win.
I must say that the highlight of our time in Costa Rica wasn’t the win itself, but what took place
right after the game. Many people came down from the stands to take pictures and asked us to sign lacrosse balls and Philippines Lax t-shirts. There was a particularly heartfelt moment when Costa Rica thanked us for coming down to compete. They really love their lacrosse down here and this trip was an unforgettable experience.
We made some lifelong friends and good partnerships. It was very special to witness firsthand how Lacrosse can bring people of different cultures together. I’m grateful to have Costa Rica as a brother in Lacrosse, and I look forward to what the future holds for our sport.
Check out some more of the pictures from our trip!
EN: It certainly looks like another great lacrosse event has gone down in Costa Rica. We’ll continue to provide more updates on the many groups out there trying to grow the game in new places, and would like to wish both the Philippines Lacrosse, and Costa Rican National Team, the very best of luck going forward. It’s an exciting time to be a lacrosse fan!