Importing new sports to the grand duchy is never easy, but as success stories from the likes of the rugby and hockey scene have shown, it is not impossible.
This is heartening for Luxembourg sportsman Pit Bingen who, for the past two years, has been trying to establish the sport of lacrosse in the grand duchy.
Like rugby and hockey, lacrosse has a solid base on other continents, notably North America, which is why he believes it can catch on here. “We want to address the expat community because I think it is there that we have the greatest chance of finding people who already played the sport,” Bingen says.
Lacrosse is a contact sport, which was first played by native Americans before colonists made it their own. Played with a wooden stick curved into a kind of oval shape at one end and covered in a net, the sport was named because of the stick’s resemblance to a bishop’s crook.
And, it has developed something of a religious following in recent years among people who enjoy its combination of skill, speed and, in the men’s game, contact.
“It’s quite a unique sport in how we handle the stick. It’s not like you just hit something. You have a movement to catch and throw and there’s a technique for shooting, passing and picking up the ball,” Bingen enthuses.
He first took up the sport in 2009 while studying in Heidelberg, Germany, a country in which lacrosse is gaining a firm hold. He later played in Paris, but when he returned to Luxembourg in 2015 to find no lacrosse scene, he knew he had to do something. Bingen and a handful of players would meet informally for trainings in Kinnekswiss park or at the Geesseknäppchen.
In November 2016, Bingen officially created the club, naming it “The Blacksmiths”, a nod to Luxembourg’s steel heritage. “The problem in Luxembourg is finding a pitch. It’s an even bigger problem if you’re not a sports club and if you’re not affiliated to a sports federation,” he says.
The fact that a minimum of three clubs are needed to create a federation in Luxembourg complicated matters further. It appears a solution has been found and work is underway to welcome the Lacrosse Club into the Hockey Federation.
“They roll the ball and we have it in the air. But otherwise the sports are quite similar,” says Bingen, adding that he hopes it will enable the new club to use the all-weather hockey pitch at Boy Konen stadium in Cessange with the hockey club.
Once they have a regular ground, Bingen expects to be able to build a critical mass of players, with ultimately a youth section. And, with a qualified coach (and former vice president of the European Lacrosse Federation) already in their ranks, it looks as though they will be able to take a real shot at playing for Luxembourg in local leagues and perhaps one day internationally.
The club resumed training on Thursday evenings in March. Players of any gender or level are welcome.
Beginners training will be held 22 April, 4pm-6pm at Boy Konen Stadium in Luxembourg-Cessange.