This week I’ll be taking an in-depth look at Danish Lacrosse today. We’ve talked about the past, so let’s hit up the present. There are currently around 50 people in Denmark who know what lacrosse is, and much like any other under-appreciated sport, we have to rely on ourselves to get things done.
Danish Lacrosse Today
All lacrosse activity in Denmark is run by the Dansk Lacrosse Forbund (DLF) committee. Basically it is 7 guys, the oldest of which is 28, who love the game and want to see it grow in Denmark. These people organize the scheduling for the season and lacrosse events, organize trips to tournaments, order gear for the league, design uniforms, AND represent their club’s interests to the board when decisions are made.
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All decisions are made in an extremely Danish fashion with a long discussion first, some head scratching, then another discussion, and finally a vote.
Who is running the national program?
One of the committee’s decisions was to appoint Nick Ravenhall as the head coach of the national team for the 2016 European Championships.
Nick has free reign over the national team’s on field training and scheduling – since it needs to fit in with his own busy traveling work schedule, and because he is the most experienced guy currently involved with Danish Lacrosse. However he doesn’t do everything alone. Nick works closely with a group of 5 people to plan all the stuff for the national team – including tracking down sponsorship for the team, fundraising, logistics of moving, housing, and feeding a squad of 30 players.
Ultimately, this group will also be organizing the trip to Hungary for the European Championships.
Who runs the clubs?
As you can figure out by now, Danish Lacrosse is run by a small group of volunteers. The 3 clubs in Denmark are run by the players themselves with a couple of people taking charge and doing most of the work. Even though the rivalry between the three clubs can be savage at times, they are quick to help each other out when it comes to the important parts such as transporting gear and organizing events – we scratch each other’s backs.
The players even officiate their own games! That might seem weird to some, but it works. Danish Lacrosse runs a game weekend where the three teams play each other on the Saturday in a ménage à trois. The team that isn’t playing runs the bench, umpires, takes pictures, and lends players to the other teams if necessary. It is truly an all-in effort.
On that Saturday night we arrange a social event and on the following Sunday we hold common practice, where all three teams train together. The more experienced players from the different clubs coach the newer guys regardless of which club they are from.
Where do these people come from? Where did they learn lacrosse?
The current crop of players in Denmark are 90% Danes, 5% expats who knew of the game before arriving in Denmark, and 5% random “I happened to walk past a match one day, they were short on players, and forced me to play and now it is too awkward for me to stop“.
We are fortunate in Denmark to have a school system that encourages exchange programs. So many of the players in our system have learned about lacrosse while in America, Canada, or England on exchange. They then sought us out upon their return to Denmark – we have scooped most of them up since creating Facebook pages for the DLF and each club.
What is being done to Grow the Game?
Recruiting is a big issue for us because Danes just aren’t familiar with the sport. To paint a picture of the recognition for the game in Denmark, as players we are often asked if we are on our way to catch butterflies, fish, or to pluck apples. The occasional party questions of “You play lacrosse? But where do you keep your horse?” also arise.
However, we do get a few people to try lacrosse at training once or twice but we have trouble keeping them. Thus, part of our main goal has been to grow awareness of a sport we truly believe any Viking would enjoy playing. The big gaps between games and summer seasons isn’t that appealing for new players especially in the long Danish winter. With this in mind we started an indoor fixture with 4 indoor lacrosse weekends during the 2014 – 2015 winter so we didn’t have so long between games, and could keep the new people interested.
Unfortunately, there is a real lack of available indoor facilities so it can be hard to find a hall big enough.
To grow the game we have:
– contacted universities to get involved in open days
– worked together with one of the local ice hockey clubs to run a session for their juniors
– showcased the sport at some of the culture days in Copenhagen during the summer
– run sessions for local secondary schools during health week
– run a coaching course for PE teachers so they could learn the basics of lacrosse for when they run sofcrosse/modcrosse sessions at their own schools
– branched into the bachelor/bachelorette party territory and corporate team building area (although we usually charge a minimal fee for these sessions so we can maintain our equipment).
Apart from all things national team, we have plans to add another club to the DLF and are holding discussions on the best way to do this, then there will be some head scratching, another discussion and finally a vote on how it will be done – maybe something with 7 v 7 trial games on a small field or something indoors. Who knows? What we do know is that it will be set up and run by a hard working volunteer base as always.
To check out what we are up to in Denmark don’t hesitate to follow the links.