At the end of an excellently organised World Cup the Prague organisers handed on the FIL flag to English Lacrosse co-president Claire Stoot who invited everyone to Manchester in 2010।It is quite scary to think that the Manchester World Championship is next and is only a year away.
One of the big changes which has been highlighted by the formation of FIL is that when international competition started back in 1967 it was only every 4 years. Then the World Cup started in 1982 but there were separate NGBs for Men and Women so you still felt it was a 4 year gap between events. Now English Lacrosse is a joint NGB and the international GB is joint so we have World Championships every year -not to mention Europeans!
2010 Men's World championship
2011 Women's U19 and Men's Indoor
2012 Men's U19 and M & W Europeans
2013 Women's World cup
2014 Men's World Champs -(again!!)
Balancing elite competition with the domestic game will be a real challenge going forward.
An English Lacrosse team of Alan Holdsworth , Caroline Royle and David Shuttleworth travelled to Prague to update the FIL Board Meeting on the progress being made to host 2010. Hopefully they were reassured that arrangments were well in hand but appreciated the tremendous financial pressures that were being created by the current economic situation.
The Czechs did a great job organising a successful World Cup and coped superbly with the awful weather which not only made the grass fields unplayable but also caused game disruption for lightening breaks. Manchester definitely needs a Plan B although of course it never rains in Manchester in July!
The Slavia Prague facility was excellent with accomodation close to the grounds and ATPs to take games when the grass became unusable. Food and drink on site was readily available so you could enjoy a good days Lacrosse. The Gold and silver medal games were moved to the modern 40,000 seat Slavia Prague football stadium. The 2,500 fans who turned up made enough noise for it not to feel too empty.
US won the Gold Medal beating holders Australia 8-7 in a thrilling final which was perhaps too influenced by umpiring decisions . Officiating is becoming a major problem for many sports as well as Lacrosse . In the final the two big screens in the stadium carried the TV coverage of the games along with the dreaded replays whci allow every decision to be examined.
The England team was probably the best prepared we have ever sent to a World Cup but unfortunately we lost to Canada in the Bronze medal game, dropping to 4th in the World ranking. The game was lost in the first 10 mins when failure to convert chances combined with top class Canadian goal keeping saw us go 0-4 down when the score could easily have been 3-3-and what a different game that could have been!
It is obvious that, over the next few years at least, international competition is going to be dominated by women who play or have played in the US college game; all the US team , most of the Canadian team and key members of Australia have all come through US colleges.
We are also going to see a drive for significant rule changes. The crystal ball says goggles at least -possible helmets, 10 a side, no stand , different penalty system. If we do not want Women's Lacrosse to become men's Lacrosse played by women then change will have to be managed sensitively.
Back to Manchester. The next big event is the official launch of Manchester 2010 which will take place in Manchester Town Hall on Tuesday 21st July. Tickets will go on sale with a special "early bird "offer ; the 2010 range of merchandise will be released and opening games will be announced. Then we will definitely know we are only a year away.
Exciting news on getting back to the office was to find more teams signed up for the Festival including "The Devils" from South Korea. Already over 50% of the spots have been taken in the FIL Festival.