Sun | May 26, 2019

'Where we need to be' - N'tl lacrosse coach pleased with World Champs preparation

Published:Monday | May 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMRachid Parchment/ Sports News Coordinator
Jamaica's Shakir Saunders (left) comes under pressure from an Israeli player during their Heritage Cup match played in Providence, Rhode Island, on Sunday.

Jamaica's senior national men's lacrosse team head coach, Errol Wilson, said that although there is still some way to go, he is pleased with the togetherness he has seen in the team as it gets ready for the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship in July.

The Jamaicans are currently in Providence, Rhode Island, competing in the Heritage Cup to build team cohesion ahead of the tournament. They face Ireland as they seek to claim third place in the competition today.

JamLax, as they are called, were unbeaten until losing to hosts Israel. They rebounded for a 6-4 win over Poland, but a 5-4 defeat by Puerto Rico in the semi-final meant they will be playing for the bronze medal today. However, Wilson is upbeat because of the effort shown by the team.

"I thought it was a very great learning experience," he told The Gleaner. "We played better than in the fall when we scrimmaged college teams. It's been a very good bonding experience to be here for the past couple of days. It's good to be together to build some chemistry. We are progressing in spite of what we don't have, but we still have a long way to go.

Wilson was referring to the fact that the team lacks sponsorship.




"We need as much help, financially, as possible," he said. "These young men are trying. They're travelling to come to practice and to come to the Heritage Cup, but they have lives and families and needs, and we need as much help as possible, and in spite of that, they're getting better, and they're making sacrifices in order to be with the team."

In terms of being a match for other nations in lacrosse globally, Wilson, who describes the team as "athletic, defensively sound and coachable", is confident that it can compete with the stronger teams in the world.

"We are right where we should be as far as this tournament goes," he said. "We have a chance to win the third-place game [today]. We were unable to keep up with Israel, and we lost a close one to Puerto Rico because we made mistakes. Puerto Rico and Israel played well, so we have a chance to win that third-place game. That's right where we should be for the Heritage Cup. For the World Championship, we would be towards the higher end because of our athleticism and ability, but we gotta go play the games."

Assistant coach Mark Wilson, who joked about being unsure whether he is related to the head coach, is thankful for being invited to the competition as it provides much-needed experience.

" The goal is to have another venue, where we get together and play outside of the World Championships," he explained. The invitation for this is somewhat informal. Israel reached out to all of the teams that would be participating in the World Cup and asked for availability of who could come. A number of teams responded and were able to make the tournament."