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I’m in Israel and I’m Lucky – Preparing for World Games 2018

I’ve had an interesting week. I started off this week waking up in the United States, and now, funny enough, I’ve been waking up in Israel. How bizarre.

That’s more or less the gist of it. There’s a whole article about why I’m waking up in Israel these days, but if you’re just looking for an update as to where I’m waking up, it’s in Netanya, Israel.

Netanya, that’s a city in Israel that you’ve been hearing a lot about over this past six months in regards to lacrosse, right? That should give you a small inkling as to why I’m here. Just a little one.

Wait, Who’s Netanya?

I’ll be living here for the next eight or so months to help out the good folks at Israel Lacrosse in their endeavors to put on the greatest FIL World Lacrosse Championships in history.

If you’ve been living under a rock, and haven’t been privy to the fact that the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships are being held in Netanya, Israel, that’s alright.

All you need to know is that the world is coming to Israel from July 12-21 in 2018. Fifty national teams will be competing in the largest gathering of national programs in history. Just try and wrap your head around that one…

FIFTY teams from all over the globe.

For reference, there were 38 teams present in the 2014 Denver games, and 29 teams played in the 2010 games in Manchester, England.

That’s a massive increase in participation, and that’s due to the tireless work of so many dedicated programs and individuals all over the globe who are quite literally growing the game.

Can’t Miss Israel!

I wanted to be a part of this, and you should too. This is obviously going to be the biggest international lacrosse event in the history of the game, but the interesting caveat to that detail is that it will likely be the last open World Games.

After this, the proposal is that teams will have to qualify in their region much like U.S. Soccer was supposed to beat Trinidad and Tobago to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. (Still pretty excited about the fact I won’t have to hear that god awful “I believe that we will win” chant this summer.)

Israel beach lacrosse all stars Brian Witmer
Rough job, but someone has to do it.

When the conversation came to me coming over to Israel, initially I wasn’t really interested. I usually spend my winter out West working at a ski resort in Park City, Utah. But, when the opportunity came across my fictional desk that I was invited to be a part of helping facilitate the largest international championships pertaining to the sport that’s literally given me everything, I don’t think there was a way I could’ve said no.

I’m trading snow for surf this year, which will be different. I’ve seen some pretty mild winters in the past few years, but this will be my first absolutely snow-free winter and I’m not really sure how I feel about that. No scraping off the car in five below? That’s great. No tree laps in 24 inches of Utah powder? Definitely going to be a problem.

Trying to Make a Difference

But I’ll be doing the work I want to do. This means I’ll be writing. I’ll be coaching kids and recruiting new Israeli kids to try lacrosse. I get to spread the good word about lacrosse and the World Championships not only in Israel, but due to the close proximity to Europe and Asia, I’ll have the opportunity to take short(er) flights everywhere to help promote these games.

I don’t really have a dream job.

To me, those two words in conjunction with each other is the epitome of an oxymoron. I don’t know anything about Israel, to the point where I feel like the most basic questions are almost to the point of insulting to the people who live here. Regardless, I’m where I need to be to help grow lacrosse to the best of my ability.

israel girls
I started coaching within my first few hours in Israel.

Some of my work will be outreach to national programs and working with the very tops of the industry. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ll be working through conversations with charades trying to teach kids about the greatest game they haven’t fallen in love with yet. And there’s a lot of hummus. Tough to complain.

In Fact, I Can’t Complain

Culture shock isn’t really the right word. I think culture shock and I think of like purple people who eat puppies. So far (three days) there hasn’t been anyone or any interaction bizarre enough for me to even think of it to use an example here.

The language barrier is real, but I’ve found most Israeli people (so far) have a decent handle on English. Definitely better than my Hebrew… I’ve learned three words in three days, at this rate I’ll be able to order a shawarma on my own in a month if I’m lucky!

israel car Brian Witmer
My sweet new Israeli wheels.

It’s going to be a good year. Selfishly, it’ll be amazing for me. For lacrosse as a growing and developing international sport, it’s amazing. All the hard these national governing bodies will be on display. Years of building up players from all walks of life will come to fruition in Netanya.

I wouldn’t have missed these games for the world (pun… intended?). To be here on the ground and to be able to be a part of this wonderful event is going to be an unbelievable experience.

Frankly, I’m lucky. This article boils down to that. I’m lucky. I’m in Israel, and I’m lucky.