As Team England prepare to face the Czech Republic in their opening game at the 2015 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships (WILC 2015) in Syracuse, NY on Saturday, we caught up with Team England’s Joseph Darkins ahead of the opening game. We discussed the teams build-up to the championships and what the expectations are for the team. We also discuss what future Indoor Lacrosse has in England.
Hi Joe, Could you tell us a little more about yourself and Team England?
The England Indoor Lacrosse team was initiated by Jamie Tasko (Purley) and Peter Dunits (Hapstead) to take part in the 2007 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships (WILC). Jamie and Peter brought years of Box Lacrosse experience from Canada and saw England not taking part in the World Championships as a missed opportunity. Starting from nothing, they secured sponsorship from BBC worldwide and Man Group and brought together a team to travel to Halifax, Canada.
Both Jamie and Peter went on to play in the 2007 WILC for England where England finished fourth after a third place playoff with the USA. Jamie and Peter have gone on to manage the 2011 and the upcoming 2015 WILC championships in Prague and Syracuse respectively with Joseph Darkins (Spencer) to continue England’s participation on a world stage.
Before the world championships Jamie Tasko also set up the UKs first box lacrosse team the London Knights who play in the prestigious Ales Hrebesky tournament in Prague each year. This team is now run by Joseph Darkins and has been joined by the Heaton Hornets, Dreadlax, Maidstone, Gin and Juice and East Grinstead lacrosse teams as the other indoor lacrosse teams participating within the UK and internationally.
During the run-up to the 2015 WILC there have been many challenges bringing the team together. During the organisational period Jamie Tasko moved to Canada, Peter Dunits started a new job and moved house and Joseph Darkins started a new job and got married.
Looking forward to the 2015 WILC, could you tell us how the preparations have been going on ahead of your opening game against the Czech Republic?
The organisation for the 2015 WILC started two years ago when Syracuse was chosen as a location.
Training sessions took place over the last year near Leicester to try and encourage northern and southern players to try out for the team. Over the last seven months the team has been reduced from the initial 70 players into a final roster that will be travelling to the USA for the WILC. Where required, North American players have been included to provide experience in much needed areas within the squad to compete in Syracuse.
There are many elements required in order to organise the team. Team jerseys, transport, apparel, insurance, training, exhibition games, accommodation, food, equipment, supporting staff, coaches and copious amounts of administration to name a few areas. While writing this, most areas seem to have been covered however you can’t rest in case something crops up. At the moment the management is trying to work out who will wash the kits between games and where we can find a spare training goalkeeper.
Could you tell us more about the team that will be representing Team England at the WILC2015?
Every player in the team now has box lacrosse experience. This has come through either playing in previous World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, Ales Hrebesky tournament or the trials and subsequent training sessions.
The overall makeup of the squad is a mix of age ranges, Nothern/Southern English and North American players. English based players have been favoured to try and promote box lacrosse within the UK. As a growing sport throughout North America it is essential that England grow with all aspects of the game in order to stay competitive both in field and box lacrosse.
Could you tell us more about the coaching and support staff and what factor they will play in a successful championships for Team England?
It is with great sadness that this year saw the passing of Chris Hall the larger than life coach of the England Indoor Lacrosse team from the last two world championships. The team jerseys will contain a tribute to this great man who inspired so many England players. Also Jim Meredith the NLL hall of fame member will not be returning to the team after helping the squad in the last two championships.
During the WILC 2015 England has secured a first class management team once again with Mike Hasen, Pat O’Toole and Chris Driscoll of the Rochester Nighthawks. Mike Hasen is the most accomplished NLL coach over the last few years having won two Championship cups and two Mann Cups. Mike, Pat and Chris also bring years of playing professional indoor lacrosse for multiple teams and the squad can’t wait to meet and work with these world class lacrosse coaches.
As well as the coaching staff the team also has support from the trainer Steve Cluney, Masseuse Alice Marno, physio Lisa Hoffart of the Calgary Roughnecks and Emily Manning and advisor and experienced referee Greg Hart.
What would you say your performance expectations are for Team England ahead of the championships?
The English contingent in the team have been training for a few months now and are prepared and ready to show our ability on an international stage. Coupled with the experience of the North American players we plan to work hard to get results in what is a very tough Blue group with the USA, Canada, Iroquois and the Czech Republic.
The team are under no disillusion about the task ahead if we are to get results against these teams with the Czech Republic being the game England are focusing on the most.
Looking at the game here, what would you say the future holds for Indoor Lacrosse in England?
One of growth hopefully. The main barrier to indoor lacrosse is the facilities. Many players who have tried box lacrosse have stated that they prefer it over field lacrosse. It has the great potential for growth, as long as the venues to support this are available.
Not to mention the growth of the game in the USA who have consolidated their national field and box lacrosse program in order to gain ground on the Canadian players who, through experience of both types of lacrosse are showing how it provides the cutting edge. This can be seen with the Thompson brothers who have all grown up playing box lacrosse.
Image Credit: WILC 2015
Watch Team England at the WILC 2015
You can follow all of Team England’s game LIVE on the WILC 2015 website stream: http://wilc2015.com/watch/ you can also follow the schedule and results here: http://wilc2015.com/schedule/
2015 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championship Roster