Lacrosse takes flight in Jamaica
WHILE lacrosse has been played in North America for centuries and is known as the national sport of Canada, it has only in the last few years started to take root in Jamaica.
President of the Jamaica Lacrosse Association and St George's College teacher Calbert Hutchinson told The Gleaner that the sport was introduced four years ago in partnership with the American-based Fields of Growth International to help spread its popularity.
The sport has been introduced into several schools in the Corporate Area, including St George's College, Kingston College, Wolmer's Boys' School, Holy Trinity, Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) and St Hugh's High School.
Dupont Primary School is part of the association's youth programme.
Hutchinson said he was in discussion with other schools to introduce the sport there as well.
"Four years ago, you would never hear a student talking about lacrosse, but it's the fastest-growing sport in North America and offers lots of scholarships for university, and offers even more scholarships for girls. It's part of the Olympics and we want to get it into as many schools as possible," said Hutchinson.
Two teams, one each from the Tufts University in Massachusetts and the Storm Lacrosse team from Florida, played two international friendly games against the combined national lacrosse girls' team at Winchester Park earlier this month.
Tufts won the first game 18-0, while Storm won the second game 11-1.
Despite the dramatic differences in the scores, Hutchinson was optimistic about the future of the sport locally.
"That (first) encounter gave them a lot more experience. Getting that team coming down was an eye-opener for them. There was a lot of exposure and experience. We hope to provide them with a lot more opportunities like this," he added.
Hutchinson noted that while the boy's teams have been playing for much of the last four years, the girls programme only became structured over the last two years.
"I just completed a three-year strategic development plan and that will see us scaling the sport within 10 boys' schools and six female schools within the next three years. We hope to enter the 2018 World Championships for males and get it more institutionalised within Jamaica," he said.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson noted that the availability of resources meant that the association targeted a certain geographical location for its activities. However, the hope is to spread it further.
"We try to keep the schools in a certain geographical location. We have coaches from abroad to help with resources and so we keep it into a certain geographic location. Outside of social media, we visit the schools. We visit schools in the location and we also have a web page and Facebook and Instagram page," he said of the growth in the sport.
"When you see them walking with their lacrosse sticks with pride, it's a nice feeling."