Big first for Jamaican lacrosse

Jamaica will make history in international lacrosse next month when the country becomes the first Caribbean nation to compete at the World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship. The championship will be held in Maryland, United States, June 29 to July 9.

President of Jamaica Lacrosse Association, Calbert Hutchinson, said it feels good that the girls will be competing at the championship and he expects them to do well, especially after their third-place finish at the Pan American Lacrosse Association (PALA) Women’s Lacrosse World Qualifier in 2019. 

“We are going in with a good regional record. However, based on the world ranking, Jamaica is ranked at 34th of the 36 countries taking part,” he said.

Despite this, Hutchinson expects the team to do well enough at the championship to move up in the world rankings.

Head coach and national player Karen Healy-Scott said she also expects the team to do well but preparations for the championship have been challenging.

“We are not able to practice altogether as much as we should (because) we are a little bit spread out with players in Jamaica, Canada and the USA,” she said. “All the training together has not happened as yet, so what we are going to do is come together a week before the world championship and have a week long training camp where we will really put all the pieces together. We did a winter camp at Christmas in Jamaica.”

She said the team is relying on experience from players who would have competed internationally in competitions such as the World Lacrosse Women’s Under-19 World Championship before the COVID-19 lockdown in 2019.

“I think we are going to do quite well (and) we have some really strong players who have got the experience now to compete really really well,” she said.

Hutchinson said finding the funding for the championship has been challenging. 

“As it is right now our players who are based in the United States and Canada are expected to pay their own way and we are asking for funding through the Sports Development Foundation for the local players,” he said.” If we are successful in getting that funding, then we will be able to cover the cost per player for the local players and with our fundraising initiatives we are hoping to reduce the overall cost for the United States-based players.”

He said it has been challenging getting donations or sponsorships from local businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been asking (but) we have not received any (and) we understand the challenges but we still have to get our teams to these championships to represent Jamaica,” Hutchinson said.

He called for more investment in non-traditional sports and more players to join sports like lacrosse.

“The traditional sports are over-saturated with players, therefore what non-traditional sports such as lacrosse do is to provide alternative means of engagement for youths, more opportunities for success and opportunities for tertiary education,” he said.

He said although lacrosse has only been in Jamaica for about seven years, a number of Jamaican players have received scholarships for international colleges.

Eighteen players are on the roster of the national women’s lacrosse team. Two reserves have also been named. The team will play the group stages against Wales, Latvia, Uganda and Germany starting on July 1.

Sharla Williams/Gleaner Writer

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