Every young lacrosse player in Europe knows the Scheider Cup. Once a year, teams from all corners of the continent come together in Frankfurt am Main to play lacrosse on one weekend.
The Scheider Cup: Europe’s Biggest Youth Tournament
Europe is dominated by the sport that works according to a simple motto: “The ball is round, and a game lasts 90 minutes.”
After King Football comes nothing for a long time. This is also true for lacrosse. It is clearly a marginal sport on the continent where modern soccer was invented 150 years ago in England. This is true not only for the seniors but also the youth.
But once a year, on the first weekend in October, the young European lacrosse players gather in Frankfurt am Main, and on the time-honored courts of the tradition rugby club SC 1880 Frankfurt, only the sport of lacrosse dominates the days.
Almost 400 players from 25 different teams made the journey to the Hessian metropolis in 2021 to take part in the sixth edition of the tournament. Six nations were represented this year, with teams from Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Latvia, and Germany converging for the event. More than 80 helpers of the SC 1880 Frankfurt took care of a smooth course. The girls and boys played in U14 and U19 age groups.
Czech Dominance in All Age Groups
Since 2015, the Scheider Cup has been a permanent fixture in the calendar of European youth teams. The tournament’s namesake is Bob Scheider. He did pioneering work in Frankfurt many years ago and was committed to the growth of the sport in Germany. At his old stomping ground, this weekend’s event was all about lacrosse for the little ones. Otherwise, it is primarily rugby and field hockey that are fought for titles here on a grand scale. Under a bright blue sky, the tournament started on Saturday with the first games.
The teams from the Czech Republic radiated an overarching dominance in all age groups. Especially dominant was LCC Radotin, which traveled to Frankfurt with more than 50 children and provided the winners in all age groups in the end.
One of the most defining figures of the Bohemian powerhouse is Brian Witmer. Born in the United States, he has been involved in youth lacrosse in the Czech capital of Prague for several years. He sees the Scheider Cup in a positive light.
“It’s good getting kids out and playing,” Witmer explained. “A lot of these kids haven’t seen games much, especially not internationally, because nobody was able to travel to play. I wish tournaments like this would happen more often, because the kids need the game time.”
Witmer sees only the level of referees as needing improvement.
“The kids need the best officials,” he said. “At the adult level you can get by, because everybody knows the rules, but the kids often don’t know the rules and need to learn them from the best.”
The atmosphere at the tournament was excellent, despite the often somewhat one-sided matches. The colorful crowd, the good organization, and the unique sports facility near the center of the Main metropolis made for many happy faces during the weekend.
The Tournament As a Forge for the Squad
The importance of the tournament, especially for the players, is also made clear by Lasse Volquardsen. He is a U19 player on SC 1880 Frankfurt and the top scorer of the U19 men’s competition.
“The Scheider Cup is the tournament you look forward to most every year as a youth player,” he said. “The level is relatively high, and it’s really fun to play here.”
Lasse comes from Frankfurt and has been playing lacrosse there since 2018. Compared to many other clubs, he can be happy that there is a youth program at all. After winning the German U16 championship in 2018, he now goes on the hunt for goals as an attacker for the first men of SC 1880 Frankfurt. The jump from youth to men is a big hurdle for many young players throughout Europe. One of the reasons is that, apart from the Scheider Cup, there are hardly any match offers for the young players who are no longer allowed to play in the U16 league due to their age.
Lasse’s next big goal is the U21 World Cup in Ireland (Limerick), where he will also be on the field as a leading player for the German junior selection. The 17-year-old trains a lot for this. He goes to the weight room several times a week. He has a stick in his hands as often as possible – wallball, shooting and many training sessions in the club help him to constantly improve his playing level.
The general conditions for young lacrosse players are not optimal in many places in Europe. What many young players in North America take for granted, Europeans have to work out for themselves with a lot of initiative. The Schneider Cup has therefore become an important institution in Europe. Despite the odds against them, some former European junior lacrosse players, like Penelope Pennoyer, Per Olters, Eskander Ben-Aissa, and Lukas Tophoven, have found homes in DI and DII college lacrosse programs in the States.
If the number of lost lacrosse balls can be counted as an indication of the interest in the sport, then things are not bad for the future of the sport in Europe; of the more than 400 balls provided for the event, more than half were gone after the tournament.