Lacrosse players appeal for a pitch as sport grows in popularity

Council and leisure contractors urged to provide markings for 'fastest game on two feet'

Thursday, 17th May 2018 — By Richard Osley

Lacrosse stock Bill Brine

Lacrosse is big in the United States, but it’s hard to find somewhere to play in north London [Photo: Bill Brine]

IT is known as the “oldest and fastest game on two feet”, a high-octane sport which is losing the clichéd image of being reserved for private school playing fields.

But players of lacrosse say there is nowhere for them to train or play matches in Camden.

Now, in a bid to put the sport on the map in north London, a coalition of teams is asking the Town Hall and its leisure contractors to add lacrosse markings to pitches. In a direct appeal for help, the North London Lacrosse Partnership has offered to pay for block bookings, provide a lump sum in return for markings at Talacre Sports Centre.

Other potential sites include the pitches at Market Road, currently heavily used for football, and Whittington Park in Islington. The two boroughs have the same company, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), as their sports contractors. Lacrosse is more popular in the United States but there is a growing popularity on the university club scene.

It is claimed that players then find it difficult to pursue their interest after they leave campus due to a lack of facilities. The partnership in­cludes six teams with sides from University College London and Hampstead Lacrosse Club, a successful team which currently plays under the Westway near Paddington.

It is estimated that successful teams needs at least one training session and a matchday each week. A new team, Camden Capybaras, has been formed but is in search of somewhere to practice and play ahead of the new season in the autumn.

Emily Parfitt, president of UCL Lacrosse, said: “There’s a massive move towards increased accessibility and inclusion within lacrosse, driven by both players and coaches.”

She added: “Simply having a lacrosse field in central London would enable far greater outreach and accessibility as it would open up the potential for more schools to start the sport as well as enable a rise in clubs and training.”

The sport, which originates in North America, sees players pass the ball using a stick with a net and scoring by propelling it into the opponents’ goal. Enthusiasts hope it will one day become an Olympic sport.

Ms Parfitt added pitches would not need too many alterations to the markings to be used for lacrosse.

“Many lacrosse pitches used by schools, especially those found on astro-type surfaces, are multipurpose fields and they are just as suitable as lacrosse specific fields,” she said. “In fact, the astro/3G fields tend to be the ones that are of most use as the lines and the pitches aren’t destroyed by weather! As for conversion, to the best of my knowledge grass fields would simply require grass paint and a knowledge of the markings which can be found really easily online.”

Camden’s culture chief Labour councillor Jonathan Simpson said: “GLL have responded to discuss the association’s pitch req­uirements, and if a suitable council pitch is currently or soon to be available, will be assisting the association in booking this for them.”

Want to start playing lacrosse?

Emily Parfitt, president of UCL Lacrosse, said: “I’d say the biggest piece of advice I’d have [to get involved in lacrosse] would be to either reach out to a your local club, whether that’s at university or outside of uni. There are a lots of lacrosse leagues that play games on Sundays and train during the week and between them they cater to all abilities.”

She added: “Most universities have lacrosse clubs and the sport is growing massively at this level. As such, many universities have specific development teams which are aimed to introduce complete beginners to the sport. At UCL for example, we have teams suitable for both men’s and women’s beginners and many of these players end up moving on to our more experienced teams. For juniors, there are clubs as well as a fair few holiday camps that prove very popular. For those who have left university, clubs love gaining new members and many have multiple teams that enter in different levels of the league, meaning they can cater to all abilities even if you haven’t played before.”

Rob Ingham Clark, coach and vice-chair of Welwyn Warriors, said: “I would advise looking up their nearest club on our national governing body website or contacting us, the Camden Capybaras, directly.”

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