World Lacrosse Update: Finland, Israel, Poland, Hong Kong, Qatar + More!

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Finland box lacrosse
Photo Credit: Ondrej Mika

The planet is much too big of a place to put all of the news in just one place. Yet, that’s what we’re attempting to do with our first World Lacrosse Update!

I was 16 when my father took us up to London, Ontario for the 2006 FIL World Championships.

I don’t remember much. Some guy draped in an English flag streaked across the field wearing a thong. That stuck with me. What also stuck with me was that realization that other countries had lacrosse as well, and it wasn’t just USA vs Canada vs Iroquois.

It was quite honestly a little bit of a culture shock. Coming from a pretty white-bread corner of Upstate New York, that was definitely the first time I’d ever been around that many people of that many nationalities. I wasn’t hooked. That hook didn’t sink until after college, but the idea was there. The fascination that lacrosse was growing was stuck in my head, and rest assured that awe and wonder hasn’t budged an inch.

World Lacrosse Update: February 2017

Recently a couple cool stories came across my desk. (Disclaimer: there is no desk.) This is a rough roundup of the news that caught my eye.

There are a lot of good people doing a lot of even better things for lacrosse, and it’s about time they got a little more attention.

Finland Draws Announced

We’ll start off with the biggest international event this year.

Finland hosted the FIL U19 field games back in 2012, and lacrosse returns to Turku this July for the first ever European Box Lacrosse Championships.

The Fins have been one of my favorite programs to watch since I started paying attention to international lacrosse, and these guys earned the right to hold the games. The games are slated for this coming July and we’re anticipating an awesome lineup. I have a couple names in my head as far as who I think will be hoisting hardware, and I’ll be posting more theories, analysis, and wildly unwarranted speculation closer to the event.

World lacrosse update European box lacrosse championshipI’ll get a good look at a number of the national teams in Prague this April at the European Invitational, and of course during the following weekend as well, at the world-famous Ales Hrebesky Memorial.

With the Euro Box Games only a few short months away, you can rest assured this April will see some of the highest caliber German, English, Finnish, and of course Czech teams, as well as a number of others.
The groupings were split into two categories. Nations who were present and participated in the 2015 WILC games on the Onondaga Nation were placed in a top group, similar to the FIL’s Blue group. Nations who did not play in 2015 are in different groups.

One difference between 2015 and 2017 is the size of the groups, but this tournament also presents a much more viable path to gold for nations not in the top group. This aspect of the tourney set up really makes me happy. This is an honest, fair, and transparent way for all participating teams to get great quality games ALL TOURNAMENT LONG, as opposed to getting blown out five times in pool play and then playing two close games once group play comes to an end.

LaxAllStars.com will be in Turku for these games, and I’m pumped to see this tournament in July… in person. Yup, I’ll be there.

World Games in Wroclaw

This one probably flew under your radar. The World Games are coming to Wroclaw (pronounced vrahts-wav says the Polish barista at work).

If you’ve never heard of the World Games, that’s alright. Neither had I. From what I’m getting, the disciplines on display in Wroclaw this July will consist of a plethora of niche sports that don’t have full Olympic status. Other sports have gotten into the Olympics after playing in the World Games, so this is kind of like lacrosse’s test run. It’s kind of a big deal if you’re into the whole Olympics thing.

Reading a little more into it, it sounds like all of these so-called “niche” sports would all very much like to become ful =l Olympic Sports. My sources say that there will be national programs representing the United States, Canada, England, Japan, Australia, and of course the home team of Poland in both the Women’s game for sure. There have been mentions of men’s team playing, however, the official website cites a women’s tournament only.

Whatever the situation, all sources corroborate that while the World Games go from July 21-30, all the lacrosse games will be played over the final four days, from the 27th through the 30th.

Israel will Host European Women’s Lacrosse Championships

Denver was convenient for me. Toronto was easy. The WILC in Syracuse would’ve been thuper thimple had I not been living on the other side of the planet at the time. Having a tournament in Israel makes a lot of sense for a lot of countries, and I’m excited that Israel now has its shot at hosting their first ever international lacrosse event.

The games aren’t slated until 2019, but with our homeboy Scott Neiss at the helm, it’s a pretty safe bet that two years will be more than sufficient time for the program to build an awesome tournament. I’ve never been to Israel, but a quick google image search of Tel Aviv has me pretty excited to spend a little time on the beach and catch some awesome women’s lacrosse.

ELF Announces New Tournaments (Coal Cup, Newcomer Games)

The ELF (Euro Lax Fed) is killing it. To act as not only a governing body, but as a catalyst spurning on the grassroots growth of lacrosse in Europe is a daunting task. Thankfully, the good guys and girls at the wheel have the right ideas.

With two new tournaments announced earlier this month, the focus of the ELF is clearly on development… where it should be!

The Newcomer Cup will run from June 26-28 with the Coal Cup following up June 29 until the 4th of July. Both these events will be hosted in collaboration with one of our favorite national programs, the Polish Lacrosse Federation.

The games will take place in Katowice, Poland. With international championships becoming more frequent, and sadly more expensive, the Coal and Newcomer Cups offer a chance to get exposure for developing programs and a real chance to develop those who will go home and grow the game domestically.

In addition, new U20 tournaments will be launched by the ELF in the coming years to continue the focus of national teams to grow domestically from a young age, instead of just waiting for NCAA players with the correct heritage to graduate and become available.

By having an U20 tournament, juniors who would miss U19s by a year will still have their shots at representing their countries, developing their skills against other junior European programs. It also allows traditional national teams to keep their attention and funding focused on World/Euro Championships, while still being able to develop their programs from the bottom up.

Hong Kong Open Announces Lineup

World lacrosse update hong kong openThe Hong Kong Open is the biggest lacrosse tournament in the region if we’re going by notoriety. I’ve had my eye on this event for a couple years now. This year it looks like the stars/calendars have aligned and I’ll be able to attend.

Check out the list of teams attending the tournament! Programs from Japan, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore… and GUAM will be there!

I don’t know anything about lacrosse in Guam, but now I want to know EVERYTHING.

It’ll be a bit of a trek from the mountains of Utah to the lacrosse fields in Hong Kong. I’d still make the trip if it was twice the hike. This will be something else! Will the legend Adam JorreStJorre aka Frenchie be there? One can only hope. He is a Bayswater man though, and he loves a little international lacrosse.

Qatar Hosts First-Ever Tournament

This is cool. This is really cool. The Qatar Lacrosse Foundation has successfully hosted their first-ever lacrosse tournament. Four programs participated in the event, with the home team hoisting the inaugural hardware with a win over Barwa City.

World lacrosse update Qatar TournamentTo round it out, representatives from West Bay and Dubai also competed in five rounds of short-sided games. From all I’ve read on the event, the real exciting part isn’t the result, but the prospect for the future.

Not only for the event, but the potential for explosive growth in lacrosse interest in the Middle East. I’m over the moon for these guys and the progress they’ve made at the grassroots level. I’ll be in the area this April and I’m hoping to make something happen.

Australia Will Send U23 to Japan’s Friendship Games

In preparation for the 2017 ASPAC in South Korea, Australia will send an U23 team to Fukuoka, Japan this June.

The JLA’s Friendship Games are an annual event, bringing in talented NCAA teams. They hosted Hofstra in 2016, Drexel in 2015, and Boston University’s women’s team in 2014. While the signature matchup is always between the Japanese National Team and the visiting heavyweight, the Friendship Games always feature smaller developmental clubs too.

Hofstra Japan Friendship Game
Hofstra vs Japan Photo: Japan Lacrosse Association

I’ve never been to Japan, but this is just one more reason to make the trek. From the limited information available online, this sounds like an awesome event. We’ll be keeping you in the loop this June for the 2017 JLA Friendship Games!

Side note, big shoutout to Link Potter and Dylan Wood from Woodville on making the U23 squad. It’s a great day to be a Warrior.

Anybody else?

I referenced a couple countries doing a couple awesome things.

Maybe I didn’t mention your country. It’s very possible I missed the awesome things your nation is growing the game in this World Lacrosse Update.

Shoot me an email at brian@laxallstars.com and let’s hear it. Tell us what’s going on and more importantly if there’s a couch we can crash.