In the last article, we told you about the origins and start of Spain Lacrosse. As we say here, its rained a lot since then, but Spain Lacrosse is still facing many challenges and adversities on our quest to become one of the top lacrosse countries in Europe.
There are currently eight official men’s teams in Spain divided amongst some of the biggest cities in Spain (like Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla or Bilbao), but also within some smaller communities (like Cuenca or Alicante). There have been various other teams that due to lack of funding and participation have had to fold, such as the Gijon Wolves or Montes Lacrosse, but a lot of their players have continued playing on for other teams. The competition in Spain is currently separated in a League, where teams compete against all the other teams in the country, and a Cup, which is held over one weekend in the year and consists of a group phase followed by semi-finals and finals.
The Spanish League has been active for over 10 years, attempting to grow the game within Spain and improve the level of homegrown players. However, there are many difficulties for those who play lacrosse in our country. Distances between cities are quite large and players need to travel using their own means, making playing consistently a difficult ask. That is why Spanish league games are only held once a month, usually between February and June.
Until recently, Madrid was pretty much the undisputed champion of both the League and the Cup, winning both consistently. However, some of the other clubs have recently made their mark in the country’s lacrosse landscape such as Alicante Lacrosse, a club formed in 2015 by Spain FOGO, Javier Coca, winning both the 2016 and 2018 Cups, while Barcelona Dracs, a relatively recent club, was led to the 2018 League Championship by international attackman Pol Llorca and Colorado native Joel Tromburg. This year, Madrid is currently 1st in the league, having beaten Barcelona, Alicante and Sevilla in their games.
The players in Spanish clubs are usually a combination of home-grown players who stumbled onto the game through a friend or a family member and people who learnt the game living or studying abroad, mainly in England or in the USA. A lot of clubs are strengthened when foreign players come to their clubs, usually taking on a coaching role. This however can be a double edged sword, when teams start depending too much on foreign talent and do not promote the sport amongst Spanish players, limiting the real growth of the sport in the country.
It is at this level where Spain hasn’t reached the level of other European countries such as Germany or Belgium, who have done an excellent job promoting youth lacrosse in their countries. Mostly due to limited funding, equipment and time, youth lacrosse is almost non-existent in Spain, with most people starting to play in university or even later on. Although there have been various attempts to start youth lacrosse through the clubs in some of the larger cities like Madrid or Barcelona, they have unfortunately never managed to stay alive. To solve this issue we need people in the lacrosse community, both nationally and internationally to get more heavily involved with the growth of the Sport in Spain.
Thankfully, we have had people from all around the world who have taken an active interest in growing the sport in Spain such as Adam Ghitelman, Scott Ratliff, Marcus Holman and Will Manny, who conducted a clinic in Barcelona to promote the sport with the Give & Go Foundation. Others like National Team coach Mike Bartlett have been more heavily involved, bringing a plethora of international coaches to several clinic and tournaments, donating tons of equipment and helping bring Notre Dame University to Barcelona, along with some other high level European teams to play against the Spanish National Team.
In the local community, others like Ignacio Farjas, who has been one of the most heavily involved people in the Madrid lacrosse club in recent years, or Pol Llorca, who has helped organize tournaments, teams and national team tryouts for years, are even more important to genuinely grow the game in Spain.
Spain’s best and proudest players, some homegrown and others who have learned the game internationally represent their country at the highest level through the Spanish National teams.
More about them in the next issue!