The World Indoor Lacrosse Championship 2015 takes over the Onondaga Nation next month and in preparation for the historic event we will be taking a deeper look into each of the 13 nations that will be competing for the gold September 18th-27th, 2015!
England has played field lacrosse longer than most countries in the world and has a developing box lacrosse scene. The English have competed in the previous two WILC events and are looking for a medal finish in 2015!
Let’s get to know the men of Team England before the WILC 2015, exactly one month away![mks_separator style=”solid” height=”2″]
Preparations for the WILC 2015
What are some of your biggest concerns when traveling with the English team to the United States and the Onondaga Nation?
Where to begin? There is a real mixture between financial, opposition, logistical and personal issues to face in the run up to the tournament:
The WILC is a big financial commitment for players. They have to fund their travel and equipment while budgeting time off from work with many looking actively for sponsors to help.
As a team there are a number of up-front payments required while we’re waiting for money to come in from the players so cash flow problems can also hit the team. Often this is bankrolled by the personal funds from the management which is never ideal. In all, juggling the money is a major headache for any management team and this squad is no different.
We are in a pool with some of the best lacrosse players on the planet. We will be bringing an experienced team to the tournament but trying to coordinate our team, which is distributed nationally, to match the level of opposition means that all players must be on top of their game. We are all hungry for the challenge and looking forward to showing everyone what the England team has to offer and that we can complete against the best.
Trying to organize a tournament across time zones while making sure that the players have the equipment, apparel, hotels and passports they need is never easy. Managing these orders can be a nightmare as players want to change things last-minute and recently our kit order has just fallen through and we are currently looking for other suppliers.
There are three main people managing the England team; Jamie Tasko, Peter Dunits and Joe Darkins, they all we all have full time jobs. In the last year, Joe got a new job and got married; Jamie has moved from London to Victoria, BC with his two wonderful kids; Peter Dunits has also moved homes and jobs as well. Dealing with ife moments, kids, wives, local lacrosse commitments and work is a balancing act. This goes for the players on the team as well. But we love the sport and that’s why we give it 100% and can’t wait to suit up for the WILC!
What other obstacles are still in the way of England having the ideal trip to the WILC?
Now the roster has been finalized for Team England, the obstacles for the management is to make sure that the players have everything they need for the tournament. Each player has different requirements and questions and there is still plenty of work to pull all this together before the tournament.
Team England is also still looking for sponsorship for the tournament. This would have a huge impact on helping the team make it to the championships and provide an opportunity for the team to get behind a brand. Some of the players have managed to secure personal sponsors and they’ll be sporting the logos on their jerseys.
Making sure that all the players are in shape and lacrosse sharp is key. There are still two training sessions here in England before we head off to the WILC and these will be vitally important to make sure the England-based players are prepared.
All have been working on their fitness and making sure when they step onto the floor in Syracuse they will be ready to show what the team is made of.
English Lacrosse History
When was box lacrosse founded in England and by whom?
Lacrosse in England has long roots with the sport starting in 1876 with a number of Northern teams being set up around that time. As there is no other reference I know of, Jamie Tasko introduced box lacrosse to England by setting up the first team, the London Knights, in 2006. Peter Dunits was also instrumental in introducing the sport in England alongside Jamie as they brought a wealth of knowledge from Canada when they moved to London for an extended period.
It was both Jamie and Peter who recruited the players for the first WILC in Halifax 2007 and many of today’s roster and support staff. From this point the sport has really grown steadily with Alan Keeley organizing the Tasko Cup, the first English box lacrosse tournament.
The London Knights who participate annually in the prestigious Ales Hrebesky tournament in Prague, are now managed by Joe Darkins but more box lacrosse teams are appearing from established field teams and new tournaments are gathering momentum.
What other events has England competed in internationally?
- World Indoor Lacrosse Championship 2007 – 4th Place
- World Indoor Lacrosse Championship 2011 – 5th Place
- World Indoor Lacrosse Championship 2015 – TBD
- 2017 European Box Lacrosse Championships – TBD
The England Field lacrosse team actively participates in the World Lacrosse Championships and European Lacrosse Championships.
2015 Players and Staff
In general, how would you describe the players on the English national team? What are the guys like off the field?
The England Box lacrosse team are a mixed bunch of guys who all love the game. There are so many personalities on the team and occupations range from a fireman, tree surgeon, osteopath, company director to a sport media salesman. You get your regular mix of loose cannons and other typical athlete types.
Off the field, the team is distributed across different parts of England and Canada. The team connects via social media together regularly with plenty of ‘banter’ going around. The team is also looking forward to the WILC so they can bond more as a team.
Which key individuals from your country should lacrosse enthusiasts look toward as an ambassador of the game? Why?
Jamie Tasko is really the father of box lacrosse in England along with Peter Dunits. Both have a wealth of box lacrosse experience and you can see the passion they have for the game.
On a local level, Alan Keeley started the Tasko Cup in the UK as a one man show and has really shown how some elbow grease can put on a fantastic box lacrosse tournament within the UK.
Who are the team’s most experienced players for the WILC?
Attack: Tom Johnson spent time with the NLL’s Washington Stealth and was on the England Box Lacrosse team from the WILC 2011. Tom is big, left-handed attacker with years of experience.
Transition: Michael Gillan is a leftie, Canadian-born, English passport holder who had a tremendous season this year with Barrie Blizzard of CLax.
Defense: Alan Keeley runs the show and plays for the London Knights and previously with England Box Lacrosse team in 2007 and 2011. Alan is a fearless and hard-hitting defenseman known for bringing 100% to the field every time.
Goalie: Nick Rose is a big-body, well-experienced goaltender who stands between the pipes for the NLL’s Toronto Rock. Rose will surely bring much valued experience to the team.
— NLL (@NLL) January 24, 2015
Who is your coaching staff, what is their experience?
It was with great sadness that we lost an ambassador of the game in Chris Hall. He was the coach for the last two world lacrosse championships and recently passed away after battling cancer.
Along with Chris, Jim Meredith also was instrumental in working with the England team and sharing his knowledge at the WILC. With Chris’ passing, the team secured the following coaching staff who are of the highest quality:
Mike Hasen – Head coach: Current Head Coach for the Rochester Knighthawks where he won three consecutive NLL championships.
Paddy O’Toole – Defensive coach: Current goalkeeper coach for the Rochester Knighthawks and all-time NLL saves leader with 6,464 as goalkeeper.
Chris Driscoll – Offensive coach: Scout for the Rochester Knighthawks and past captain of Toronto Rock.
What is the team’s ratio of English to North American born players?
We have 18 English-based players and 10 that are Canadian-based.
We have tried to balance the team to bring in experience where required but wanted a solid English core. We also have a few English passport holding Canadian players returning from WILC 2011.
Is there anything else you would like the worldwide lacrosse community to know about England or the team?
Just that all the box lacrosse players who play in England, especially for the national team, are incredibly grateful to Jamie Tasko and Peter Dunits for helping bring box lacrosse to England. Many players involved with the London Knights and Team England prefer playing box lacrosse to field.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”2″]
Thanks to Coach and Organizer Joe Darkins for taking the time for this interview.