This July, Luxembourg will be sending its first ever men’s national lacrosse team to the World Championships in Israel.
Photo: Matic Zorman
Luxembourg only recently joined the Federation of International Lacrosse in July 2017, becoming its newest and 60th affiliated member. In celebration of Luxembourg’s participation in the upcoming championship, a reception was held at the residence of the Austrian ambassador on Thursday, 21 June.
Stories of the team’s humble beginnings, thank-yous to coaches and families, and plans for the future of lacrosse in Luxembourg were all shared at the intimate event. A highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the official uniforms by Luxembourg Lacrosse Club president Pit Bingen.
At the reception, players joked that Luxembourg will be the only team to have an unbeaten track record at the world championship, for about 60 seconds. While the team may not be favoured to win the tournament, they still acknowledge the importance of participating in the event and are thrilled for the opportunity. “This is going to be a massive building step for our team and for our association,” remarked general manager and team member Henning Schmidt.
Less than a decade ago, the lacrosse scene in Luxembourg was practically non-existent. An exchange of Facebook messages between a few people wanting to play lacrosse in 2014 led to weekly meetings and small pick-up games, which eventually led to the official formation of the Luxembourg Lacrosse Club in December of 2016. When the club applied to become part of the European Lacrosse Federation in July 2017, they were unintentionally accepted into the Federation of International Lacrosse as well.
Thus, their invitation to the World Championship was an understandable surprise. With only around 10 players at the time of the invitation, and 20 needed to attend the tournament, the team began recruiting players both locally and from abroad. “We could’ve roped in North Americans of a much higher level, but we chose not to do that, and rather took North Americans that are committed to coming here,” says Schmidt.
Nick Beattie, team goalie and recent recruit from Florida, has lived in Luxembourg for the past month training with the team and helping to coach. In comparing his experiences in the two countries, Beattie notes, “It’s a lot different, because lacrosse started in the states, so they are inevitably a little better. But in terms of the game that’s played, the game is the same.” Beattie is optimistic about the future of lacrosse in Luxembourg and believes there is a lot of potential for the sport.
Global growth in sport
Schmidt shares this sentiment, noting that since his arrival in Luxembourg, the lacrosse scene has exploded, mirroring a worldwide trend of increased interest in the sport. “Twenty to thirty years ago, there were only 5 nations at the world cup, and now there are 48.” The players and coaches are confident that interest in lacrosse won’t slow down after the championships in Israel, with plans to compete in the Belgian league this coming fall and plans for a development camp hosted by the Federation of International Lacrosse to take place in Luxembourg. The team also hopes to continue fostering support for the sport amongst wider audiences, with youth teams in the works, and plans set in place for the national girls’ team to attend the European championships in Israel in 2019.
When asked about his goal for the tournament, Schmidt said, “everyone home safe, everyone home happy, and if we could win the odd game, that would be the very big icing on an already big cake.” The team’s first match will be played against Hong Kong on 11 July and will be their first official match ever.