Lacrosse Education in U.S. Helps Global Expansion of Sport

Lacrosse isn't only growing thousands of miles from U.S. borders either. A quick look south reveals an emerging program in Mexico, which first started after the 2006 World Championships. Illiad Rodriguez, who attended the games, began to develop a Mexican lacrosse league, first recruiting members from the U.S. and eventually expanding to Mexico by 2008. In only two years, four university teams were formed in Mexico City in addition to college students who formed a team in Monterrey.

Despite Mexico's growth in only four years, the country still faces common problems in its development of the sport. Rodriguez said that all sports teams have trouble getting field time. The best fields are often owned by a university or club which requires the team to have some type of affiliation to the organization to be able to play on it. Rodriguez also said that gathering equipment has been an issue, as all gear is ordered from the United States. Still, Rodriguez remained extremely positive on the future of the sport.

"Even though our challenges are great, we are enthusiastic about the sport of lacrosse," Rodriguez said. "We know we will continue to grow at a rapid rate if we can expose more athletes to the sport."

Rodriguez anticipates the number of teams in Mexico to double, perhaps triple, over the next five years based on the tremendous growth to date. With the expansion of feeder programs at the youth and high school level, Rodriguez believes that lacrosse has the chance to become a major sport in Mexico.

"Our athletes have a natural feel for the game due to their experience in other sports such as soccer," Rodriguez said. "All we need is more time and coaching to become a country to be reckoned with on the international scene."

With the continued growth of lacrosse around the world, traditional powerhouses such as the U.S., Canada and the Iroquois can no longer simply worry about each other when it comes to international play. As development outside the U.S. progresses, Tyers said nations have shied away from using American or Canadian players in international competition. Although there is nothing in the rules against using players not born in the country but a descendant of it, England has made a stand by pledging to be the country with the smallest number of Americans and Canadians on its team in the 2010 World Championships.

"They put a cap on American players because they don't want to rely on them," Tyers said. "Slowly but surely, they are getting there."

Slow, maybe, but a process England and the rest of the world is willing to take to become competitive in a rapidly growing sport.

Dan DeFrancesco is a defenseman for Plattsburgh State, where he just completed his junior year and will serve as captain for the 2011 season. He played high school lacrosse at Arlington in Poughquag, N.Y. DeFrancesco is majoring in Journalism with a minor in Business and hopes to attend graduate school after he graduates in 2011. His writing has appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal.

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