Sunday, November 2, 2008

Swiss Lacrosse

Yesterday I attended my first major lacrosse event in Switzerland, an indoor tournament in Bern, though I have attended a few practices with the Zurich lacrosse team since I arrived 2 months ago. At first we practiced at a nice school facility on Friday evenings. When the weather started to get a little too cold, practice was moved to Saturday afternoons at a field near the airport- about an hour away. Since we only play once a week, I don't really mind the travel, but this fact can seriously inhibit the development of the sport in Switzerland. I have come to expect to give up a whole afternoon for only 1 or 2 hours of play time with others. The women's game is played with 2 teams of 12 players (11 field, 1 goalie). The Zurich women's team consists of 5 players (including me), so I knew this tournament would be interesting.

I arrived in Bern at Wankdorf Sporthalle at 11:30 for a one o'clock game but discovered immediately that there was not "Frauen" game listed on the day's schedule. When the other Zurich female players arrived (the men had been there since 8 am) we sat and waited for the tournament committee to add a game for us. In the meantime, we watched the men's teams play. Eventually, there were 14 females total from Zurich, Bern, Basel, and Wettingen. Then everyone argued about how to split up the teams so it would be fair, and in the end, the 7 17-18 year-olds from Wettingen ended up playing against the rest of us (21+ yrs). Such trivial arguing typically annoys me, so I made it a point to play more aggressively than usual since winning a pointless game seemed so important to everyone. We ended up winning, but I must confess I took some advantage of the referees' ignorance of women's rules and probably angered a few opposing players in the process.

The 5 men's teams in Switzerland all differed in skill but had one thing in common: professional looking uniforms. The teams are the Bern Titans, Zurich Lacrosse (no mascot from what I can tell), Wettingen "Wild", Basel Lacrosse, and St. Gallen Sunnyboys. They are all members of the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF), so I think Switzerland can expect to have a Men's National Team at some point. The Basel team's uniforms did not say Basel anywhere on them, but they had "IROQUOIS LACROSSE" emblazoned on the front. I laughed a little at this. Apparently their historically accurate name did not aid them, because when our game was over and the men had started their play-off rounds, the entire Basel team was drinking beer in the stands.
The women players correspond to the same geography, but there are too few in any location to make one team (and seemingly too few in all of Switzerland to make 2 teams), so it is definitely a growing sport. I asked about the future of women's lacrosse in Switzerland and was told that if they can become a member of the ELF, then it would take 2 years to have a women's national team. Apparently this is something they are working toward. I noticed that everyone here communicates the most common phrases in English while playing, though I still have trouble trying to communicate with the team when we are playing.

Finally, every athletic tournament has a snack bar, but I found yesterday's to be amusing and perhaps counterproductive. In addition to hot dogs and sugary cakes, there was an assortment of beer and liquor available throughout the day. I prefer the healthier option that I've enjoyed of late: playing catch before work with my colleague.

It will be interesting to see how a sport still considered in development in the US will continue to develop in Europe! I did not take any pictures of my own, but if I can find any that were taken on the internet, I will be sure to post later.


J.M.C. said...

do you know how I can get hooked up with the team? i'm moving to zurich in july and i'd love to keep playing lacrosse!

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