Editor’s Note: Have you ever wanted to play lacrosse in Australia? We’ve got a very exciting interview for you today with Rodney Maher, a representative of the Altona Lacrosse Club based in Victoria, which accepts visiting players and coaches to play and coach with the team as part of program. Players like Micheal Rhoads from the University of Virginia have played in seasons past, as well our publisher Connor Wilson! Below is a transcript of an email interview that Connor did with Rod about the Altona Lacrosse Club. Make the trip to the southern hemisphere and play the great game of lacrosse in the land down under.
Altona Lacrosse Club Interview With Rodney Maher
Connor Wilson: Can you provide some insight into the Altona Lacrosse Club? Where is it located? When was the club founder? What league do you play in? How many members are there in the club? What age groups do you have teams playing? Is there a women’s side to the club?
Rodney Maher: The Altona Lacrosse Club was established in 1964. After several years of being moved to different locations in the municipality, we were finally provided with a permanent home in 1984. Perhaps it was a fear of again being uprooted that the club has always leased its grounds all year round. Altona’s foresight and sacrifice is evident when you consider Altona is the only club in Victoria to have its grounds all year round. As a result we are often called upon to assist Lacrosse Victoria and the Australian Lacrosse Association in running tournaments on their behalf. We are known for our ability to run great tournaments, which is a testament to the professionalism of the committee and hard work by our volunteers. In 2018, Altona held the biggest Under 15 lacrosse tournament ever held in Australia. Our grounds and clubrooms are among the best lacrosse facilities in Victoria.
Altona is a bayside suburb which is why we chose the mascot “Vikings” in recognition of our proximity to the sea. Our original colors were purple and gold but 30 years ago, purple colored uniforms were difficult to get in a consistent quality so we changed to our current colors of sky blue, navy blue, silver and white. When we see how good the Iroquois look in purple and gold, however, we may well use that color combination again, at least for some of our junior sides.
Altona is a large club by Australian lacrosse standards with over 100 male and female players. For 2020, we will have sides in U11, U13, U15, U17, Division 3, Division 2 and State League for men. We also have one senior women’s side but we hope to add another senior women’s side and a girl’s side for the current season.
Altona’s top side plays in the State League Competition. The State League competition is the highest standard of Australia Lacrosse. It is a tough competition with many NCAA Division 1 standard players joining the best Australian lacrosse players. In this competition, Altona is the youngest side but we have huge potential with some of the best younger players in the country. The field lacrosse season runs from late April until early September.
There are short introductory videos of our teams on our webpage at https://www.altonalacrosse.com.au as well as a lot of information for overseas players thinking of making the trip down under.
We also have our own you tube channel, Vikings Lacrosse TV, which has lots of videos of our sides in action and was voted in the top 30 lacrosse video channels in the world in 2018.
CW: Can you describe the local Australia lacrosse scene in Victoria? How many clubs are there? How long has lacrosse been played in Victoria? Who are the other Australian states that offer lacrosse? How does Vic stack up with the other big Australia Lacrosse states?
RM: Victoria has the strongest competition, having won the Australian National Championships for the last 4 years and more titles overall (32) than South Australia and Western Australia combined.
There are 16 lacrosse clubs in Victoria (12 are male and female clubs, two are male only clubs and two are women only clubs). Only nine clubs however play in the top competition – Altona is the newest member of this exclusive club having been in the top level for just four years.
Western Australia and South Australia have established lacrosse competitions. Queensland has a dedicated group looking to establish a base in that State but they do not have enough teams for an established, regular competition at this stage.
CW: How does the visiting player/coach process work with Altona? What roles and responsibilities does a visiting player or coach take on with Altona? What kind of support is there at the club for a visiting player? How do you bring a new member of the club into the social fold?
RM: At Altona, international players are treated as one of the family. Players are taken in by a host family, or a senior player, and offered free room and board. Typically, some of the single men and women will take you out and show you around town early in your stay. You will most likely be taken to an Aussie Rules football match and some players will demand you barrack for their Aussie Rules side (you have to have an Aussie rules side!). Given Victoria has some of the best surf beaches in the world, recent overseas players have been taught how to surf by Altona players or, if you like, you will get the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful tourist attractions we have in Victoria, or just take some time to enjoy the quiet serenity of the outback. There are also overseas players at all the other State League clubs so there will be opportunities to catch up with them – especially at the annual USA v Australian players lacrosse match held during 4th of July week.
At Altona you will be made to feel very welcome, there are player testimonials on our website from two of our most recent overseas players, Mike Rhoads (University of Virginia) and Adam Ceribelli (Towson University). We have been very lucky in having some fine young men play at our club and we appreciate the players we have been fortunate enough to have come and play or us. Invariably, players we have hate to leave.
When at the club, overseas players are offered free meals after training on Thursday nights and on many other nights different players and families will invite you round for regular meals. There is also always someone at the club on a Thursday and Saturday night ready to buy you a beer and have a chat. There are also enough single men and women at the club to show you around Melbourne’s nightlife.
International players are often provided with a vehicle to enable them to get to lacrosse training games and clinics and there is plenty of time during breaks in the season to do the tourist things you want to do. Often members of the club of around the same age as the overseas players, will introduce you to some of the great experiences our wonderful country has to offer.
We cannot guarantee jobs but the chances of us finding jobs for overseas players is really high. We have excellent arrangements in place with a casual hire company and the club has tradesman who may also be able to assist in work and the American accent is always popular in the hospitality trades. The club will arrange and pay you to undertake clinics at primary and secondary schools on behalf of our club. There is also often the opportunity of work from Australian Lacrosse Association and Lacrosse Victoria in assisting them with clinics they organize to introduce lacrosse to school children.
What we expect from you is to coach or assistant coach one of our junior sides, to attend all club training sessions (Tuesday and Thursday nights) and be a leader on the field as well as a positive role model around the club. We also expect you to undertake school clinics for the Club in attempts to recruit new players. For the clinics, you will be paid by the Club.
CW: If a visiting player/coach needs to find some extra work, can that be arranged? Is there a special Visa that needs to be applied for by the player/coach?
RM: If you wish to play and work in Australia, the most likely visa you will require is a “First Work and Holiday visa” with this visa you can do short-term work in Australia and travel to and from Australia as many times as you want within a 12-month period. To be eligible for this visa, you must have a passport from an eligible country (like the United States or United Kingdom!) and be between 18 and 30 years old (inclusive). You must apply from outside Australia and not have previously entered Australia on a subclass 462 or 417 visa (if you have you will need a different visa like ‘Second Work and Holiday Visa”). Further details are available at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-finder/work.
CW: What have former visiting players said about playing with Altona?
Making the life changing decision of traveling down to Melbourne and playing for the Altona Lacrosse Club has been by far, the best move that I’ve ever made. The level of play is very competitive and the Saturday games with minimal subs leave you exhausted for the next couple of days. We practice twice a week so you have a lot of free time to either travel, surf or work. After four years of playing college lacrosse. Lacrosse became more of a job than a game; but the first game down in Australia brought the fun and enjoyment right back into the game. The club and families that keep it organized/managed couldn’t have taken any better care of me. They helped me find work during the season, gave me a place to stay, and literally did not stop feeding me! I was welcomed into their homes and immediately became a part of their family. Going down and playing for Altona Lacrosse Club is so much more than just continuing your lacrosse career or travelling down to Australia to party…you’ll have to make that leap and buy a plane ticket to see for yourself.’
– Michael Rhoads (University of Virginia)
Interested in playing lacrosse for Altona? Contact the president of Altona Lacrosse Club, Mark Lewer, via phone by clicking the button below:
Or, contact Altona Lacrosse Club’s secretary Susie Struhs via email by clicking the button below:
NOTE: Resumes of playing experience can also be sent to this email address.
On The Web
Find the Altona Lacrosse Club on the web and social media in the following places:
YouTube (Vikings Lacrosse TV)