As a child, the thought of sport was something which I never explored. In primary school I was more into cops and robbers instead of a pleasant game of football or a spot of rugby. It was only in high school where my interest in sport peaked and this was extended at University. I became involved in hockey and proceeded to represent club and country at the highest level both playing and officiating. Unfortunately, work commitments and other complications took its toll and my love affair with hockey came to an abrupt end. This is when I discovered the wonders of Lacrosse.
I had been toying with this fast-paced, body-smashing, stick-tapping sport for years but never really got round to trying to make a concerted effort to find a local club or pick up a stick and play. Finally, this year the opportunity arose where I could play on a Sunday in Worcester. Excellent! A place to play with men and women of a similar age and learn a new sport together with coaches who share the same enthusiasm for the game as someone just getting hooked. It’s been 4 months since I’ve started and despite it being the ‘off-season’ I have competed in my first game, picked up my first ever major injury in sport and had a laugh in the process. It’s pleasing to experience a sport with people who want the same outcomes.
During my time in hockey, I was involved in the GB Super League which incorporated ‘franchises’ from England, Scotland and Wales. The idea was simple, to have the best players in the country compete together at the highest level outside of international recognition. The development of the Super League led to players developing not just for club but for country too, gaining a better understanding of different play styles and fitting in to a uniformed formation which, for those selected, would lead to a call up for their respective national side.
A simple idea but one which would ultimately lead to a string of success stories for the England men’s national side. The disappointment? Not developing it further to a women’s Super League system in order to progress both sections. Now, this may be in the pipeline and come to fruition soon and if it does, I hope it has every success of the men’s competition. It certainly has raised the profile of hockey in the country and with the central location of the league, made it accessible for those who are fans to the vaguely curious.
You can imagine my delight when I heard of an emerging Super League system for Lacrosse. A perfect opportunity to fully immerse myself in the sport and get a grips with the rules, play styles and even techniques. So, I popped down to Warwick to watch week one and it did not disappoint. Full of fast flowing action with an array of goals which excited all those spectators on the side line come to cheer on their daughters and/or team. From then on in, I was truly hooked. I wanted to watch more and see the league develop from the infancy of the first week to the strides it has made in the third, going on to the finals in the coming weeks.
I’ve witnessed the momentum which has been snowballing over the three weeks; additional spectators, inventive finishes, exciting power-play periods and a developed understanding of team mates and play patterns. I’m proud to say I’ve watched it every step of the way with no vested interest in which team comes out on top but for the excitement of watching a free flowing game of Lacrosse played by some of the best players in the country. You might think that playing the same teams over the course of four weeks would make games stale but it is not the case. Playing against quality develops players, makes them think, makes them evolve their game to become better and more intelligent whether they are on or off the ball. This can only be good for the development of the game in this country.
Where does that leave us at the end of this campaign? Well, finals weekend will prove to be the pinnacle of the Super League season with the four franchises going head to head to become the overall champion in the inaugural season. Clearly a feat to be proud of, but what should be noted is the hard work and dedication of all involved in the Super League this year from the media team to the officials, the players to the coaches and not forgetting those loyal spectators who have traveled all over the country to support their family and friends and make this competition a resounding success.
I have no doubt that Surrey Sports Park will be the perfect scene for the end of the season and I cannot wait to watch it all unfold.
I want to pass on a huge thanks to English Lacrosse and all involved in a brilliant campaign. I hope to see more developments in the future which encompasses more players and attract more fans to the game, not just for the women’s but for the men’s too.