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Germany Lacrosse: A Community Reinvents Itself

The 2028 Olympics are casting their shadow ahead. An association is facing change and transforming itself. Denise Grunert and Matthias Lehna explain what’s happening with Germany Lacrosse, DLaxV, and the future the organization is aiming to build with the community.

Germany Lacrosse: A Community Reinvents Itself

Every community faces change at some point, especially when a mega-event like the Olympic Games in your own country casts its shadow ahead. The signs are good that after more than 100 years of absence, lacrosse will once again be in the focus of worldwide perception at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Even a community as old and prosperous as the American lacrosse community won’t be able to escape it.

The good news is that change brings not only risks but opportunities. An example of this could be the German lacrosse community; Europe’s second-largest lacrosse association is in the midst of a transformation.

In the German lacrosse association, DLaxV, about 2,500 members play lacrosse. Compared to the American community, that’s a vanishingly small fraction. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a look at the old continent. The association is in the process of reinventing itself and could become a model for how lacrosse can grow in the future.

Rapid Change

DLaxV President Dr. Simon Krause has a vision for Germany’s lacrosse community. Krause:

“I want to make this sport more visible.”

His strategy relies on being represented in lacrosse in all its variations and looking at the Olympics as a drawing card. What distinguishes the German lacrosse community is that it not only relies on prestigious individual national team programs, but also operates a regionally-divided league system with several classes, in addition to a very active referee scene. In all World Lacrosse-recognized international tournament formats, the DLaxV sends a national team with a focus on “homegrown” talent.

“We focus on athletes who contribute to and develop our community,” Krause said.

Through development and involvement, the former manager of the box lacrosse national team program hopes to realize his vision. To that end, the association has created numerous commissions and committees. In doing so, the DLaxV wants to inspire as many of the community as possible to get more involved off the field. The basic idea is to use association work as a means of participation. An important side effect: with an athletes’ commission, doping commissioners, and a committee for inclusion, the association already meets the requirements for membership of the German Olympic Sports Confederation.

Germany lacrosse
The motto of the German Lacrosse Convention is: Play, Learn, Grow, Connect.

For its ambitious goals, the DLaxV has been seeking advice from professional event agencies since 2020. In doing so, the mission to make lacrosse more visible challenges the community.

Rule changes and new requirements for game operations are generating resentment among some clubs. The pressure to conform is growing, as the federation tries to implement the specifications of World Lacrosse in an exemplary manner. The latter is desperate to get the sport into a format suitable for the Olympics – and is reinventing it without further ado with the Sixes.

For some, who were used to settle association matters at a flunky ball tournament, the change seems strange. Pandemic, restricted game play, and contact restrictions add to the mix. Participation that results in Zoom calls in the evenings after work is exhausting. The longing for the never-ending summer full of fun tournaments and a big get-together is great.

Olympics as Hope

One person who always sees more opportunities than problems is Felipe Oehrwald. In his working life, he works as an IT consultant in Germany. In his sporting life, he is one of the most influential people in the Berlin lacrosse scene – a go-getter. He is very well connected in the capital and founded the first pure box lacrosse club in the DLaxV: The Box Lacrosse Team Spreewölfe Berlin e.V., founded in 2021.

Germany lacrosse
Felipe Oehrwald is the founder of the Berlin Spreewölfe.

In a roller field hockey club he found what most club foundations fail at – reasonable training times and a training ground.

“We have a lot of great lacrosse talent here in the capital. It was just time for our own team,” Oehrwald said.

But founding the club wasn’t the end of the story. Oehrwald wanted to access funding pots to get money to support athletes and equipment. That presented the DLaxV with a dilemma. As a non-Olympic federation, the DLaxV has virtually no access to national funding pots. This in turn jeopardizes the growth of the sport, and that is detrimental to the visibility of the game in Germany. It’s a vicious circle from which only the hope for the Olympics seems to be a way out.

Oehrwald is not giving up.

“You just have to network better with other federations that are in a similar situation,” he explained.

Krause is also convinced of this. That’s why the DLaxV is putting a lot of hope in the German Lacrosse Convention. From May 20-22, 2022, Europe’s largest lacrosse convention is set to take place in Dresden. With workshops, seminars, and a Nations Cup, as many people as possible should come together in the EnergieVerbund Arena. The big goal is to exchange ideas, meet new people, and, above all, make the sport visible.

The international lacrosse community should know well how important the topic of visibility is. After 1908, lacrosse was removed from the Olympic program because the sport did not have enough international presence.

Help GerLaxCon

Do you want to promote lacrosse in Germany? Then donate to the German Lacrosse Convention and help lacrosse grow in Europe!