As the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship 2015 moves even closer, we ask each nation exactly how they Grow The Game on home soil. These interviews reveal how each of the WILC nations work to not only grow the strengths of their national team, but how they are working to grow lacrosse throughout their country.
Now, we look at the growth of Ireland lacrosse. We spoke with CEO Michael Kennedy about his experiences with growing the game and the steps lacrosse in Ireland needs to take to really make an impact.
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LAS: How would you describe the lacrosse scene and the growth of the game in Ireland?
Kennedy: Men’s lacrosse was first established in Ireland way back in 1872. It then disappeared, however, in the early 1900s. Women’s lacrosse then emerged in the 1920s and was active right up until 1970, when it also died-out.
Men’s lacrosse then reemerged in 2001, and women’s lacrosse reemerged in 2005, and both have gone from strength to strength since then.
There are currently six men’s club teams: Dublin Bay Prawns, Dublin Avengers, University College Dublin (UCD), National University of Ireland (NUI)-Galway, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), and Cork Lacrosse.
There are also five women’s teams: Dublin Avengers, UCD Blue, UCD White, NUI-Galway and QUB.
The men’s teams play in the Irish Lacrosse League (ILL), and the women’s teams play in the Irish Women’s Lacrosse League (WILL) which both run from October to April.
The men’s National Indoor Lacrosse League (NILL) runs during the winter break (January/February). The next steps are to get coaches qualified so that we can start introducing lacrosse at school level.
Ireland Lacrosse currently supports four national teams: men’s senior, women’s senior, men’s indoor, and men’s Under-19. We are hoping to add women’s Under-19 by 2019 to reach the full complement.
What are some steps that folks around the world can take to better understand the Irish lacrosse culture?
Check out www.irelandlacrosse.ie! We do a good job of keeping this live and up to date. We are also improving in relation to our use of social media, so find and like our Facebook page (Ireland Lacrosse), and follow us on Twitter and Instagram (both @IrelandLacrosse).
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are planning on being in Ireland and we can let you know of any events that are going on.
We are also selling a new book on the History of Ireland Lacrosse – you can get your copy by emailing email@example.com. This provides lots of detailed information on the history of the game in this country.
What steps are being taken to grow the game locally? Quick follow up, what are some of the long-term goals for future growth?
We have just introduced a men’s Under-19 national team, which will compete for the first time in the World U19 Championships in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada in July 2016. We are hoping to have a women’s Under-19 team in time for the next women’s U19 world championships in 2019.
We have introduced a coaching training and accreditation program so that we can train coaches so they may help start new teams and also to send them into schools to teach the game at youth level. We also have a men’s referee and women’s umpire training program.
The long term goals are to develop more teams, expand our national leagues, establish a women’s U19 national team, gain official recognition from the Irish Sports Council, and start to avail of government funding to further expand our activities.
Are there any opportunities for foreign volunteers to get involved with the growth of the game in Ireland? If so, where can one find more information?
Yes, we are an entirely voluntary organization from top to bottom, so we need all the help we can get!
Anyone interested in helping can make contact via firstname.lastname@example.org. Even people not based in Ireland can help to fund raise and raise the profile of our program and our various activities.
What steps are being taken to elevate the talent pool in Ireland?
It is one of the big challenges for us, as the sport is still very much a “minority sport” or “developing sport” in Ireland to try to achieve the right balance between participation and performance.
Right now, we are probably mostly focused on participation here in Ireland – we want as many people as possible to come and try the sport and to learn it and have fun with it. To create that kind of environment, we need to ensure that we do not place too many demands on players.
At the same time though, we want to create a context where more experienced players can develop towards a higher level of performance. But at present, the responsibility mostly falls on individual players’ shoulders to find ways of achieving that. It’s something we could do better, but it is difficult with the limited resources that we currently have at our disposal.
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Learn more about lacrosse in Ireland by checking out all of the other great LaxAllStars.com content from the Emerald Isle!