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Danish Lacrosse: Are We Growing Yet?

It has been 2 years since Danish Lacrosse took the step of finding a coach and re-launching the men’s national team after 6 years in the wilderness. The big question quickly becomes – is Danish Lacrosse growing yet?

Well we found a coach and got a team together for the 2016 European Championships, our first outing in the red and white kit since 2010. The idea was to use the national team as a tool for growing the game locally in Denmark. But has it worked?

Danish Lacrosse: Are We Growing Yet?

In 2015 we had 3 men’s teams in Denmark, each an hour and a half drive from the next nearest team, playing some sort of strange 8v8 tournament, in a league format. It didn’t work very well. By concentrating our time and money on the national team the local ‘league’ died and we actually lost one of the 3 teams that we had. Since only one or 2 of those guys were involved with the national team the others were effectively starved out of lacrosse due to our lack of an ‘alternative’ or a form of lacrosse that was less serious for the non-national team guys to play.

danish lacrosseWe took 19 Danish players to the European Championships and learnt a lot. We only won 1 game and finished 20th of 24 teams but we took Danish players on the Danish National Team and those players have returned to the 2 remaining local clubs and continued to train and work hard.

After returning from the European Championships there was a reflection and evaluation of what we are doing in Denmark. We thought long and hard about how we want to improve things moving forward. Although we have lost one of the teams playing here we have gained a small base of women’s lacrosse players at each of the remaining clubs.

We effectively went from having around 40 men playing lacrosse very casually to having 30 men and 20 women.

It was decided that we would change the structure of Danish Lacrosse to improve things because showing up to play against one other team a few times a year obviously wasn’t working for building lacrosse.

Enter pick up lacrosse.

In 2017 we have tried playing 7v7 for the first time in Denmark. The 7v7 format has been used with great success in Africa and after reading a bit about it we decided that was the way for us to go. It is outdoors on a smaller grass field with no offside. Everyone has a short stick (apart from the guy standing in the goal who has some sort of butterfly catcher) and everyone plays offence and defence – kind of like box lacrosse but without the cross checking.

We scrapped the league because it was getting a bit old to play against the same people all the time. With the new 7v7 format, we arrive at the ground with as many players as we can get together, mix out some teams and play, if the teams are uneven then we mix up new teams and play again and again and again. Everyone gets a lot of game time and the games are quite even in skill level.

The women have also had a couple of these pick up lacrosse sessions and seem to dig the format as well.

Training:

We came to the realisation that we weren’t going to attract new people to play lacrosse locally if our club trainings were small. New people don’t see the point in committing to a team that only has 6 people at training. It turns out that the women’s lacrosse players weren’t too dangerous and that it was actually pretty fun to train with them in one big group rather than running 2 small gender based practice groups. Copenhagen also has half a dozen kids who join in trainings on Wednesday nights in a mostly skill and fitness based session.

Both Aarhus and Copenhagen run mixed practices. We grab a drink after training and the social aspect of the clubs has improved. Hopefully this will translate into us holding onto more of the new recruits that stumble our way.

To try and build from the 6 young guns we have in Copenhagen at the moment, we have run a few youth clinics at schools in the areas around the club but it is extremely hard to break through. The main problem is that we don’t have any form of a youth league yet so the grind to get the first group of kids playing is pretty tough but once we can get enough to play some small sided games (maybe Speed Lacrosse) it should start to build. Having 6 young guys at the moment is a big improvement on the 0 we had last year.

Ideas That Didn’t Get Off The Ground – this is the section for all the other things we have discussed doing to grow the game in Denmark:

  1. Everyone should play women’s lacrosse. We could keep our costs down and we actually have enough people to make some pretty good mixed non-contact game days. This was voted down because the guys were scared of the women. We are also entering a team for the World Championships and the guys need as much experience with men’s lacrosse as possible. However, there has been some talk about doing some mixed 7v7 games for fun in the coming months.

    2. Join the Northern German league. We would probably get beaten severely for the first few seasons but the regular games would be great for Danish Lacrosse. This got voted down due to costs. 45 of our 50 players are students and aren’t prepared to pay the costs to take this option.

    3. Play box lacrosse. We have had a few games of indoor lacrosse over the last couple of winters in Denmark and it has been pretty successful. We usually get a team coming over from Sweden to join in as well. Unfortunately it costs about $500 to rent a place with boards for a few hours and we don’t have any box lacrosse gear. Well that was a lie, we have no rib pads and only 1 set of box goalie gear so we resort to tapping elbow pads to the other goalie’s legs. SAFETY FIRST.

10 YEAR PLAN

At the moment some of these goals might seem a long way off but a lot can happen in 10 years:

  1. Send a team to the 2018 World Championships. If you have a Danish passport and are interested in trying out email Nick Ravenhall on nick@daniahlacrosse.com

    2. Take over the interwebs – help us do this by following us on @danishlacrosse on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

    3. Make sure the small local lacrosse scene that we have at the moment doesn’t die off when we start regular national team trainings again. We are actually doing fewer trainings thing time and there is space in the calendar for regular events this time.

    4. Get enough people playing lacrosse in Aarhus and Copenhagen that we can have some great events and then get soooo many people playing that we can then create new teams in each city.

    5. Get young energetic playing-coaches to come to Denmark. I have lived here since 2012 and we haven’t had a consistent coach at either club in all that time. A few of the experienced players chip in and do a great job running trainings but it lacks an overall sense of progression (contact james@danishlacrosse.com if you are interested in playing and coaching in the world’s happiest country for a few months).

    6. Play regular games / start a league. Hopefully we can get something going with our German and Swedish neighbours to start with. Even if it just a few dates scattered throughout the year. Ideally Danish Lacrosse will explode and we will start our own 6 team league next weekend but being realistic is also good.

    7. Get gear together for Box Lacrosse and find a venue that suits our needs and is affordable. The smaller team size of box lacrosse is great for the growth of European Lacrosse unfortunately it is held back by the costs of equipment and venues.

    8. Get enough kids together to make a U16 team and enough women together to play real games and have a national team. Improving our trainings and getting coaches on the ground would be a big part of this.

    9. WIN A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS…nah, just kidding. We will be pumped if we can attend and win a game or two along the way. It’s about growth right now, wins will come later, when we’ve really earned them.

A BRIGHT FUTURE

With the 2018 World Championships on the horizon things are looking solid and good in many ways. Nick Ravenhall is in again to coach us and if the improvement of the Fighting Pastries is anything to go by, then the next year will be great for us. We have a few more people trying out for the team this time around and should be able to fill out all 23 spots on the roster.

We have secured the first ever sponsor of Danish Lacrosse which will go a long way to making the trip more accessible for our predominantly student based playing group.

LAX HUT VILLAGE a company based in St Louis has put its hand up to get involved and support the Fighting Pastries. Dave Barlow and the crew at LAX HUT are committed to growing the game of lacrosse not just in their own area but also here in Denmark. Dave has taken up the position of ‘Jarl’ (vice king/advisor). His energy and knowledge of lacrosse are a great addition to the Danish Lacrosse family and we are looking forward to seeing what we can achieve over the next few years with the support of LAX HUT VILLAGE.

We aren’t going to get too far ahead of ourselves. We are going to continue to work hard, have a good time and try to recruit people into our slowly expanding lacrosse community.

P.S: I wasn’t joking about the coaching. If you are a looking to travel, play lacrosse and coach, all while meeting some fine people then don’t hesitate to get in contact with us via the james@danishlacrosse.com email address!