We are pleased to officially announce that LaxAllStars.com will be live streaming the World Junior Lacrosse Championships this year! All of the games will be available through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, across multiple channels, and free to watch. The World Juniors pull in some of the best box lacrosse talent across the junior ranks in North America each year, and 2018 in Saskatoon is no exception. I got to speak with one of the event organizers, Chris Fox, to shed some more light on this rapidly-evolving event.
The World Junior Lacrosse Championships made its debut in 2015 and was originally known as the U-19 World Lacrosse Challenge. Since the FIL does not host any events for box lacrosse outside of the men’s championship series, there was a need for U19 box play. The World Juniors filled that need.
Since it’s not an FIL event, the organization members voted to increase the age to twenty in 2016, becoming a true “World Juniors” style tournament, mirroring what is done in hockey. The World Junior Lacrosse Championship was born out of a need to provide the best players 19 years of age and under with their own platform to showcase their skills and compete for an international championship, but by adding in one more year of eligible players, the talent pool gets expanded for every nation.
Currently, the World Junior Lacrosse Championship (WJLC) is the only international box (indoor) lacrosse championship for players twenty years of age and younger.
The inaugural championship tournament saw 12 teams compete with a mix of national, club, and heritage rosters from 8 different nations compete in modified playing-time games. The games were played at a time/length similar to the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial in Radotín, CZ. In 2016 the tournament made some progress towards the ultimate goal of “one team per nation” seeing 8 teams from 5 different nations compete.
2018 World Junior Lacrosse Championships
Now in 2018, the World Junior Lacrosse Championship has achieved the goal of one team per nation, and for the first time in the tournament’s history one team will represent each nation at the U20 level. Future National Lacrosse League stars will highlight the rosters of the three best nations in the world. Canada, the Iroquois, and the United States will compete in three round-robin full length games to determine the top two teams, and those two will then compete in the Gold Medal championship game.
Plenty of “big name” players have competed in the WJLC already. Many have gone on to win Minto and Founders Cups, while others have been fortunate enough to hear their names called at the National Lacrosse League entry draft.
Here are a few of the former WJLC players whose names should be familiar to fans:
– Christian del Bianco 2015 Canada West and Tournament MVP, Calgary Roughnecks
There have been many other players who have played in the WJLC that are either still playing junior lacrosse in Canada or who are on the verge of becoming break out stars in the NLL.
And Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is such a perfect location for the 2018 World Junior Lacrosse Championships this year. In the short time that the Saskatchewan Rush of the National Lacrosse League have called Saskatoon home, the city has quickly become one of Canada’s marquee sports towns, and a booming spot for box. Combined with a large Indigenous population, Saskatoon enables the WJLC to keep the spirit and culture of lacrosse at the forefront of the event. It should also be mentioned that the winters and summers in Saskatoon are polar opposites. Players competing at the WJLC have an opportunity to experience one of Canada’s “up and coming” cities at its most beautiful, and warmest, time of year.
Besides the beautiful Saskatoon Summer, the event organizers are most excited by the evolution of this year’s tournament. It’s monumental that each competing nation will be represented by just one team. This accomplishment comes on the back of tremendous efforts by Iroquois, United States, and Canadian staffs. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the sense to establish the policies necessary to compete for an international championship, recruit players, and get these teams ready.
The organizers are also excited for the partnerships that have been established in Saskatoon, which will make the 2018 World Junior Lacrosse Championship a success for years to come. There is an established media partnership to televise games locally in Saskatoon, as well as regionally across the province of Saskatchewan. Obviously they (and we!) are pretty darn thrilled to partner up and broadcast the 2018 World Junior Lacrosse Championship live and free across multiple platforms to lacrosse fans world wide.
Moving forward, the event seeks to expand on the relationships they have established this year and in years prior. The WJLC also wants to make sure that the event is actively contributing to the lacrosse ecosystem, both from a media and content standpoint and from a development standpoint. Their mission is to provide the best players twenty years of age and under a platform to showcase their skills and compete for an international championship, but the goal is for the championship to have a trickle down effect that will see home-grown international players competing in high-level box games at a younger age.
As more countries can prioritize a Juniors team, this will help develop the box game by allowing men’s national programs to prepare for other international championship without a heavy reliance on Canadian/American import players. This tournament has all the potential to help Grow the Game!
Looking ahead, the WJLC has narrowed down (and will announce soon) the locations for the 2019 and 2020 World Junior Lacrosse Championships. Following the host city announcements the WJLC will also announce the three additional nations that will join Canada, the Iroquois, and the United States to compete for Gold at the 2019 World Junior Lacrosse Championship!
The WJLC will work with those groups to ensure their inclusion in the World Junior Lacrosse Championship is a valuable experience for their players and staff, and there are plans to have an added focus on educational components in addition to world class box lacrosse competition.
The World Juniors will showcase a ton of talent this Summer in Saskatchewan. We’re excited to see some of the top young talent battle it out in the box in full length games, and we’re thrilled to bring it all to you LIVE on LaxAllStars.com!
Stay tuned for a full schedule announcement soon, as well as other info about future events!