2019 WA lacrosse season under way

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2019 WA lacrosse season under way

Wanneroo Joondalup Lacrosse Club

Wanneroo Joondalup Lacrosse Club

Wanneroo Joondalup Lacrosse Club

Kate Purnell, Reporter

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The WA lacrosse season kicked off over the weekend, with the top-level teams putting their best foot forward in a bid to get ahead early.

Those involved with the sport are adamant that lacrosse is steadily rising in popularity in WA. However, state government funding cuts last year have created difficulties.

According to the President of the Bayswater Lacrosse Club, Bill Bowran, the state sponsored Smarter Than Smoking initiative reached around 30,000 school children annually. The funding allowed the clubs to introduce lacrosse to schools and inspire interest and involvement from the children.

It will be up to the clubs to reach out to schools independently now, a task Bayswater is ready for but will “no doubt cause difficulties,” said Bowran.

The implications of having no funding extends beyond reaching out to the potential players of tomorrow. Wembley Women’s State League Coach, Shendelle Oliver, explained that the WA teams receive no state government funding or Olympic funding, as lacrosse isn’t an Olympic sport.

The costs involved with attending major tournaments, such as the Women’s World Cup are paid for by the players attending, which can set them back thousands of dollars, according to Oliver.

Wanneroo Joondalup Lacrosse Club men’s director, Craig Ventham, detailed a similar experience, as their club’s State League Head Coach recently returned from a trip representing Australia which left him out of pocket $12,000. Ventham said it’s just one of the costs of being a “minority sport.”

Players at the top level train multiple times a week, including a few weight and stick sessions, and running most days, said Oliver. The training sessions are held early mornings before work, or after business hours to accommodate the players occupations and study commitments.

Modcrosse is the predominate pathway for prospective players to involve themselves with the sport from a young age. The non-contact junior program paves the way for joining a club in high school, which extends to the senior levels.

Bowran, who is also the director for development at Lacrosse WA said the organisation “offers assistance to schools who want to run programs by sending out coaches and referees.” Additionally, Perth clubs run modcrosse programs at their grounds.

The Wanneroo Joondalup club has roughly 200 juniors signed up to their modcrosse program, according to Ventham.

Junior recruitment and development is “a crucial and huge” focus for the Wembley Lacrosse Club this year, Oliver said drawing focus to the importance of investment in the future generation of the sport.

Oliver believes the portrayal of lacrosse in American film and television and its influence in Australia is a leading factor for the popularity growth throughout the state, using the movie American Pie and television show Gossip Girl as examples. This also arguably applies to FX’s series Archer and the movie Wild Child.

Bowran proposed that creating further opportunities for school children to become engaged, involved and educated in lacrosse will result in a healthy growth in popularity for the sport.

A strong social media presence and engagement is predicted to be one of the most useful tools in generating interest in lacrosse in WA. Ventham explained the Wanneroo Joondalup Lacrosse Club pride themselves on having the largest online following of all the lacrosse clubs nationwide, and it is something they actively work on updating and improving.

Playing well and playing hard were on the minds of the Bayswater, Wembley and Wanneroo Joondalup clubs, each expressing the determination and dedication the teams have as they strive for the premiership which is set to be played in September.

For the upcoming season, The Community Sports Show via Facebook live stream WA matches, which you can find here, and the Australian Lacrosse Network is an online television network reporting on lacrosse nationwide detailing aspects of the WA league.