There is a new European lacrosse company on the block in the form of Alliance Lacrosse, based out of the Netherlands. Currently, Alliance is producing shafts in Europe, and will look to move into other avenues of gear production in the future. In the US, this move could be shoved aside as “just another shaft company”, but in Europe, this is really big news.
One of the biggest issues facing almost every European lacrosse program is a lack of equipment, and shafts figure in to this situation in a major way. Think about how many shafts you go through in a year, then think about a situation where you can’t easily get another one, or it costs you a big chunk of change (import taxes are high and add a lot of cost). That’s how it is in many places in Europe.
Having more locally made shafts reduces costs in a major way, and it also means that shafts will be more readily available to the general playing community. If lacrosse is to continue to grow, this is going to be very important.
When Alliance does move to other products, this effect should be amplified. We haven’t tried out the Alliance shafts, but players are using them for field AND box, so they must work well on some level!
To get a better idea of what Alliance Lacrosse is all about, we checked in with their founder and owner, Lionel van Est, out of the Netherlands.
1) When did you start Alliance Lacrosse, and why did you start the company?
The idea started, like all good ideas, during a party at the end of the European Championships in Hungary last summer.
We were talking about how the cost of the equipment was holding back the growth of lacrosse in Europe. Until now we had to import all the gear we use, and that comes with high shipping fees and even import taxes. Sometimes that means that you can double the original price that is listed online. Of course we have our European lacrosse shops, but in many cases the shop owner already payed for those extra costs. Either way, you are paying those costs in the end.
2) What are your short-term goals (the next year) for Alliance Lacrosse?
We are making our entry to this industry by selling short sticks for men’s lacrosse. We are all lacrosse players and there is no big investor behind us, so we have to start small. Nonetheless, we are looking to expand our collection this year to longpoles, women’s shafts and even heads.
3) How has European Lacrosse changed since you got involved? How can it continue to change and improve?
I have been playing lacrosse in Europe for almost 10 years now and since then it has changed a lot on the one hand, but also not so much on the other.
What has changed a lot is the level of play and the competitiveness of the players. The level of play improved so much, and every tournament (WC or EC) the European teams seems to grow. Where you could guess the outcome of the game 10 years ago, you will not be able to do so today as easily. This made lacrosse in Europe so much more exciting to watch and you can really feel the urge of the teams to one day become a real threat to the national teams that are ruling the top 3 at the moment (Iroquois, Canada and USA).
What didn’t change is the atmosphere and love of the sport during smaller tournaments. In the summer you can play lacrosse troughout whole Europe and have the best summer ever. Definitely try that if you have ever got the chance!
I think the most important thing to improve lacrosse in Europe now, is the development of youth lacrosse throughout the whole continent. And that’s also where we want to help the game.
4) How does Alliance plan on fitting in/helping with that growth and improvement?
We are called Alliance Lacrosse for a reason. Every customer that buys our product, and ships it to the European country they live in, automatically adds his or her country to the Alliance. Every quarter we donate 10% of our revenue to a youth development program of one of our members of the Alliance. With this we hope to boost the youth development in Europe and also inspire countries to set up a youth development program if they didn’t already.
5) What is the future of youth lacrosse in the Netherlands?
As we speak we have multiple clubs in the Netherlands that have a youth program. Some of them even play games already. It is awesome to see those kids play and it definitely makes you think about how they will look in 5 years. They will definitely change the sport and the level of play.
6) How can North American players help out the European efforts to Grow the Game?
What happens sometimes is that North American players or coaches take some time to travel and coach in Europe. In most cases you can see a big improvement when an experienced player or coach helps out a team in Europe. This doesn’t happen enough because teams can mostly not afford a experienced coach. Some teams can offer housing, but that changes per country and team.
But also just playing tournaments in Europe will help increasing the level of play, and on top of that you will meet a lot of people that really love this game.
7) If you could change one thing about lacrosse, what would it be?
High quality gear for an affordable price for everyone. If this was the case, why would you then not play lacrosse?
8) Do you have any hints about the products you’re working on for the future?
Our goal is to become a manufacturer for all lacrosse gear. So protective gear is definitely something we are working on.
Many thanks to Lionel for giving us an under the hood peek at what Alliance Lacrosse is up to now. We wish them the best of luck moving forward, and hope to see their products out on the field, maybe even in the US someday soon!