Lacrosse team reflects on historic World Champs appearance
As the curtain came down on the Under-19 Lacrosse World Championships in Peterborough, Canada, on Saturday, the Jamaican women’s Under-19 team looked back on the experience with much appreciation and pride as the first Caribbean participants to compete in the sport on the world stage.
It was what president of the Jamaica Lacrosse Association Calbert Hutchinson had envisioned from the start, and he praised the girls’ performance throughout the tournament, highlighted by their historic win against Belgium last Friday.
“It was indeed an excellent way to end the championship games for the girls with our first international win, first world games and [being the] first Caribbean country to enter. The overall performance of the girls has shown us that we are growing, and the more international experience that we can get, the better the performance will be,” Hutchinson said.
It was an experience that at one point they thought they would never have had because a lack of financial support. A GoFundMe effort that started in April developed into other partners slowly but surely signing on to their vision, culminating in the Ministry of Sport’s $1 million-dollar assistance. That list of sponsors included Chungs Catering, Islandsmiles Orthodontics, Lannaman and Morris, and COK.
“The association would like to wholeheartedly thank all the organisations and individuals\ who took the time to give of their time, talent, and treasure to see us succeed at the games,” said a grateful Hutchinson.
With the backing in place, the young Jamaicans took on the best the world had to offer. They struggled in their group against Germany, Kenya, South Korea, and China, failing to register a win. In the consolation games after group play, they were edged out by Ireland and suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Chinese Taipei 11-10 after levelling the match, scoring three goals in three minutes in the final quarter.
But the Jamaicans were not deterred and finally registered their first win of the tournament in defeating Belgium 8-6.
It was a win that head coach Alix Baldini said was a long time coming.
“The girls were hungry from the day before with our match against Chinese Taipei. The drive, the heart, the passion each of the girls was displayed on the pitch, and their individual contributions to the game made us all have that winning feeling,” she said.
Baldini credited the impressive teamwork on display, including the performances of captain Jada Williams, who managed to score in every game of the tournament, Alicia Thaxter, who was settled as Player of the Match against Chinese Taipei, and Johanna Silvera, who was named Player of the Match against Belgium.
It was an experience that she hopes signals a future of endless possibilities for lacrosse in Jamaica.
“It was about showing the growth of the sport in Jamaica over five short years and how much potential it has to continue. I see only great things developing in the future for these athletes for lacrosse in Jamaica, as well as growing the sport beyond just 22 countries,” she said.