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On weekend 21st and 22nd of March, the biggest youth-game day in Germany ever will be held in Cologne, hosted by KKHT Schwarz-Weiß Cologne.

Teams from Cologne, Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart and Frankfurt will compete against each other to earn more points for the next German Championship held this summer.

A special feature of this event will be the ISB Brussels Lacrosse Club, who sends two youth-teams way to Germany to play some trial and friendly games against the young generation of lacrosse in Germany.

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by  Jakob Da Goalie

What a great weekend, I love the Flags. Three good senior games, plus the South of England Men’s Lacrosse association (SEMLA) ran the Harrow cup at the same time, the Harrow cup is for U17, U14 and U12 teams in the South. Basically lots of Lacrosse players of all ages in one place, Reading Lacrosse club. Reading is pretty central to most of the cubs in the South, so is often used for tournament and the like. Plus it’s a great venue, good fields and good facilities.

Spencer LC a team from inner London won two of the senior trophies, Minor and Senior Flags, whilst Cardiff Harlequins repeated last year’s victory over my team Bath.

Bath LC joined with Portsmouth Pythons to form a team for the U17, but didn’t do too well, although the kids enjoyed themselves. So much so that we split the squad and they played for another 35 minutes after the tournament was over, well worth driving the mini bus for.

On Sunday all the American Local development officers met up for the end of season wash up, free lunch on me.

Development wise things are really starting to bubble, looking towards September, who wants a coach, which clubs will be expanding, new clubs, etc etc. All this means a lot of miles on the motorway by the Development team, I’m clocking over a 1000 miles this month. For the connoisseurs, the coffee at Michel Wood Service Station is pretty much exactly the same as at Reading, but Reading has Ben and Gerry’s ice cream, I think I’m addicted to Cherry Garcia!

Photo 1 some action from the Intermediate flags.
Photo 2 The Cardiff Keeper had a wonderful game.
Photo 3 The combined Portsmouth Pythons, Bath U17 squad.

It’s tournament season, especially for the Ladies game and as one of the staff, mucking in is the name of the game. The National Schools tournament over 4 days brings together all the big Lacrosse playing schools at U19 and U15 age groups, it’s open to 1st and 2nd teams (strings) so involves literally thousands of school girls, dozens of coaches (both kinds, the ones with a whistle and the ones with wheels)  and of course lots of spectators (mummy and daddy). For the staff that means wearing fluorescent jackets and waving your hands around a lot.

Bus drivers though, in my experience will do exactly as they want to, it amazes me how those guys throw those huge monsters around, especially when you see “mummy” unable to get into a parking bay in her 4 wheel drive Chelsea Tractor.

One big advantage of the whole event is that I get to catch up with lots of the School Community Officers, they are out and about managing their respective teams, friendly rivalry of course.

For those not in the know, the English Lacrosse Association in conjunction with the large Private girls schools employ American graduates with Lacrosse coaching experience, they stay for a year (some longer) and basically coach girls Lacrosse. They are spread out a bit and tend to really look forward to the times they can get together and have a wee drink or two (or more!). For the Guys it’s all based around clubs, and they run mixed training at all sorts of levels and ages. As the South Development Office I have to keep a “paternal” eye on the current crew, we have a couple of mass meetings a year, and mine are due this weekend, cool.

For me the big highlight has been Bath LC’s first ever junior girls game, we took 20 girls up to Rendcomb College near Cirencester for a couple of games, considering half of them had never played on a full sized field, I was extremely pleased with the results, losing 7 to Nil and 3 to 2, definite improvement. I just need to get them a uniform now!

Wednesday was Pop Lacrosse day, in Wiltshire this time, 90 kids all running about, great stuff.

Like I said it’s tournament season.

The National U12’s went really well, although my lot struggled, but they are only 9 yrs old and some of the 12yr olds are giants!

Me I’m a year older, feel it too, my Bro got married, we all got very drunk, the wedding was cool, sort of mix between western and Chinese, we elders had to drink tea with the couple and offer “sage” advice. Tough for me as I don’t even take my own advice.

Flags finals and Harrow Cup (U17 boys) over the weekend, as I said before predictions on a post card.

Photo 1:  SCO’s all together, Apparently Americans are the best :)
Photo 2:  After a goal at Rencomb

Things are heating up in the South men’s leagues,  the Flags finalists have all been decided, which means 3 finals on one day hosted by Reading Lacrosse Club on the 14th March.  For those that don’t know, FLAGS is the traditional name for the English knock out tournament. Teams are seeded, dependent on their league status, and entered into one of three levels; Senior, Intermediate and Minor.

Once in the draw it’s a straight “winner takes all” right through to the final.  It is a great opportunity for clubs from the East and West divisions to compare standards.  Through to the Senior final are Spencer (South London) and Hitchin (Hertfordshire); Spencer, have beat Hitchin twice in the league and will go into the game as favourites, but who knows on the day.

In the Intermediate it’s a repeat of Last season’s final, Bath v Cardiff Harlequins, both from the West, Bath hold a slight upper hand in league games, just like last year, but Cardiff took the flags and that really spoilt the Bath party. In the Minor its Spencer 2 (East) against Penarth (West), this one should be close, Spencer 2 are very experienced whilst Penarth (just South of Cardiff in Wales) are full of youth.

Predictions on a post card.
 
Why is it called “Flags”, apparently in the very old days (yes before this bloggers time) there were no cross bars on the goals, just a couple of 6ft posts with flags on the top, seems it was tradition for the winners to take the flags off the posts as the spoils of the game. I’ve seen the South Flags, and they are over 100years old, kept in big wooden cases, quite a bit of history on one old bit of embroidered cloth.

Goal mouth action top right, see the Flags and no cross bar

Goal mouth action top right, see the Flags and no cross bar

On the development front it has been real quiet, it’s the end of Half term (mid semester) all the schools, and hence the coaches, are away on break, mostly skiing, out of sight out of mind. It doesn’t stop the “Money go round” though and bids for finance at local levels are in the pipeline.

The Regional Pop Lacrosse tournaments are starting to roll out, this week its Hampshire,  lots of 11 yr old kids running around with pop lacrosse stick, I love it, their enthusiasm is contagious.  At the club we’re about to host the National U12 8 a-side tournament, on the recreation ground in Bath,  and that will trigger the invites for the Bath eights in September, it’s one of the biggest in Europe and takes a lot of pre planning. E Lacrosse filmed the whole thing in 2004.
 
Me ,I’ve got a wedding to go to (my Bro) at the weekend, way up next to Lake Windermere in Cumbria,  lots of family and lots of booze. Oh, and I have a Birthday on Tuesday, celebrated by refereeing the aforementioned Pop tournament, then coaching the girls team, might get a pint in afterwards.  :)

“The first ever ‘unofficial’ U-12 boys lacrosse championship was held January 17th at the HTHC Hamburg Warriors indoor facilities.  Coaches Felix and Marek split the Hamburg team into two, to play 4 v 4 on small hockey goals.  They played with modified rules to accommodate the youth, playing less physically than normal men’s rules.  After the 30 minute game the score was tied 4-4.  The penalty shot decider gave “Team White” a 2 point lead. 

The boys had a lot of fun impressing the numerous fans and even the refs, Fabian Bernhard from Hamburg’s 1st men’s team, and Moritz Spiegel from Hamburg’s eldest youth team; the Braves, with their knowledge and skills.  “Team Black” will have a chance to avenge themselves on 28.2 when the teams take each other on again. 

The coaches would like to thank the great support from parents, players from the women’s and men’s teams and all others for coming to cheer the team on, and the refs for their time and hard work.  We hope to see even more fans in February showing their support for the future of German lacrosse!”

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This is the first of what we in Brussels hope will be a series of blog entries about lacrosse and youth lacrosse in Europe from the perspective of the coaches and players of the only lacrosse team in Belgium and what we think is the only high school team on continental Europe (the island nations of Great Britain and Ireland excepted).  It is kind of ironic for North Americans like Greg and I to have to move to old Europe in order to enjoy a pioneering experience, but that’s precisely what we are doing, at least in lacrosse terms.  We’ll blog later about the roots of Lacrosse at the International School of Brussels, from where we are writing.

We’ve conducted a little research about the roots of the game in Europe, which is probably the best place to begin our own story. It is said that story of lacrosse in Europe begins in 1867 after Queen Victoria watched 27 Canadians including 13 Iroquois, led by a certain W.G. Beers, play a match on the grounds of Windsor castle.  The queen’s diary entry that day noted that “The game was very pretty to watch.”  Her aristocratic entourage apparently got the hint, and within months lacrosse was being played by the daughters of the great and the good at England’s most posh boarding schools. The men’s game also took off, and when Beers returned with another Canadian team in 1883, he discovered that some sixty clubs had been formed in Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Lancashire Middlesex and Yorkshire.  It was the first lacrosse boomlet in Europe, but one that stopped at the frigid waters of the English Channel.

There are two points to remember here.  1) In lacrosse terms, the green pastures of Buckingham Palace may well be as hallowed as the artificial turf at Hopkins’ Homewood Field and, 2) Lacrosse in Europe is most deeply rooted in England.  Not surprisingly, the best lacrosse in Europe is still played there even as the game begins to take root in Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands and elsewhere. England, of course, is the only European nation competing at the highest levels of world lacrosse. The rest of Europe is playing catch up.

But things are moving quickly here.  Just the other day, we noticed that NLL lacrosse is now shown on European cable television. Nothing will raise interest like that. Both Greg and I play ice hockey here in Brussels with a bunch of Finns, Swedes, Russians and Czechs.  We can tell you that lacrosse quickly catches the eye of hockey players and there are a lot of hockey players in northern and Central Europe! The Czechs are picking up box lacrosse very quickly and developing stick skills that are surprising advanced although stylistically more similar those practiced by kids from Ontario than those from Baltimore. You can tell that a game is growing and taking root when national styles of play begin to become evident.

It’s the end of January in sun starved Belgium. The weather has been uncharacteristically cold and obviously we are now in the interstices between Fall Ball and the spring season. Practice begins only in March and our hope is that our 45 or so kids are occasionally taking their sticks out to work on their left hands. My suspicion is that if they are taking out their sticks they are shooting around on their strong hands which will make our challenge all the greater come March.

We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Paul Cook is the Assistant Lacrosse Coach at the International School of Brussels in Belgium. During the day he is the Director of the Economics and Security Committee at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He began his lacrosse career as a midfielder playing for the legendary coach, Heb Evans, at what was then known as Governor Dummer Academy but which has since become the Governor’s Academy. He went to play attack for the B Lacrosse Team at Johns Hopkins and was one of its captains in 1982. He played some club ball in Washington afterwards,  coached ice hockey in the Italian Alps for two years, and  returned to the game of lacrosse two years ago when, to his amazement, he discovered that it was being played at the International School of Brussels where his son had just enrolled.

Greg Murawsky is a Science teacher at the International School of Brussels.  Seven years ago, three students had discovered that he was a former “Box Lacrosse” player from Ottawa, Canada and enlisted him to be the coach for the new “club” at the school.  Seven years later, the lax club has grown into a a legitimate team and Brussels has been working to create youth lacrosse opportunities for its students and anyone who’ll play us all over Europe and in the UK.

Snow snow and more snow, the South of England was really bad this week, the whole country stops for a quarter inch of snow, so 4 inches really put the brakes on absolutely everything.
 
But we still go on looking for new players, the men’s and women’s  youth teams in Trowbridge, Wiltshire looked to have recruited a couple of likely candidates, sadly the games were all called off over the weekend and we didn’t get to see their skills.

Nice gloves though..

Streborkin

The problem with blogs, is where to start.  I’m sure once I get into the flow of things stuff will come easy!

Should I concentrate on what I do for work or what I do for my club; my hobby and work seem to merge spectacularly, one of the dangers of working for the sport you love I suppose.

Development, what’s that?  Answers on a post card J I seem to spend a lot of time on the M4 or M3 (main routes to London), maybe I could become a traffic correspondent – “The M4 near Reading has stopped moving today because some dolt has decided to park his car facing the wrong way in the fast lane”  

Or maybe one of those blokes who goes and eats at the service stations in order to write a food guide or something – “The £5.99 bacon bap came across as a combination of cardboard and that stuff 13th century sailors used to eat when they were starving;  great value really, about £1 a tooth”

No doubt both will feature highly.

The week started okay, I drove the mini bus to Wandsworth South London with the second team to get a spanking in the Flags (knock out competition), outclassed and outpaced in most departments.  The problem was that we scored first and just got them mad.  The kids did well though, Bath seconds are a real mixture of old farts (Me ), students (hangover), and teenagers (acne).  The after match food was good as well.  Chicken in rice and a chilli sauce that completely anesthetised your lips.  The highlight of the drive back was some numpty overtaking us on a country lane, then getting out of his car to swear at us for being in the way.  Maybe he didn’t see 15 lunatic lacrosse players in the bus, otherwise he might have thought better of it.

County Sport meetings in the week Bristol and London are always a blast.  I see another guide book opportunity in that as well; “Curly sandwiches and things on sticks”.  A big talking point across the region is Sports Unlimited.  Lots of coaching available between 3:15 and 5, but no facilities or enough coaches, and how do you “aim” something at a Semi Sporty kid?  What is a “Semi Sporty” kid?

Club training went well, the girls nattered, the boys moaned, there must be some joy in dealing with little kids and teenagers.  One thing they all have in common, is they can’t put their pads and helmets on.  I now have thumbs like Garth after popping god knows how many chin straps on helmets.  Got some new kids along though.  It was great to see the 8 year olds running around with all the kit on.  It always reminds me of Marvin the Martian.

Next week sees the build up to my son’s 18th Birthday.  I will I finally get a pint out of him legally?  And my daughter comes back from skiing (all in one piece I hope), family reunited…ahhhhh.  More like the end of peace and quiet, ho hum

Streborkin

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