The first time I saw a lacrosse game it was whilst watching a friend in a women’s 2nd XI team match at Loughborough University. I remember being gobsmacked that my normally blasé and laid back friend had suddenly channelled a fierce and competitive side of herself that I had never seen before. I was surprised by how fast the game was played; it was ferocious and shockingly aggressive. There were elbows and body bumps flying all over the place but no sign of the referees whistle. Basically, it was very very exciting.
But when I went along to an men’s England lacrosse team training session I immediately noticed differences in the game. What instantly stood out between the men’s and women’s games was the outfit. The men have a lot more equipment, helmets shielding their whole heads and faces, down to the chin making them instantly unrecognisable. They also have arm and chest pads. Without seeing any of the play it was obvious the game was going to be a lot more brutal. Lacrosse is typecast by some as a women’s game but the hard-hitting and physical nature of the men’s sport is anything but girly.
It was incredible how accurately and far the players could throw the ball, the size of a slightly smaller hockey ball but just as hard. The receiving player would catch the ball whilst on the move and was already looking for his next pass. This was all taking place while other players were trying to distract the pass by shouting and running in different directions. They also had very high fitness levels.
If this was just a training session I can’t wait to watch a competitive match, especially in the World Championships. Its only 13 days until the FIL World Lacrosse Championships for men begin and teams from all over the world descend on Manchester. I knew Lacrosse was played in England obviously, as well as America and Australia but there are a lot of unexpected nations who play competitively and who will be taking part in the tournament in July. Argentina, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Bermuda, Spain, Poland and 23 other nations will be showcasing the sport and hopefully attracting new fans.
Whilst researching the sport a team that have really caught my imagination is the Iroquois Nationals, a collection of indigenous people from the USA who are also known as the Six Nations. They are the original creators of the sport who played for healing medicinal reasons or even to settle conflicts within the tribe. The Iroquois Nationals is the only Native American team sanctioned to compete in any sport internationally. If the inventors of the game are going to be playing in Manchester, these Championships are going to be a big deal.
Even though I don’t have a great knowledge of lacrosse I am genuinely excited to learn more and for the event to start. These Championships will be the largest major sporting event to be held in Manchester since the Commonwealth Games back in 2002. This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase the area and of course there will be the buzz of excitement around the City that only sport can produce. I hope that other people who have a genuine love for sport, like me, will make the most of this opportunity to discover a new game and watch world class lacrosse teams play this exciting sport at the highest level.
By Holly Teague