Fun fact: Jamaica has been playing lacrosse since 2012! With the inaugural LaxAllStars.com North American Invitational (LASNAI) box lacrosse tournament taking place this past weekend, Team Jamaica made their first ever appearance in international competition. Now let's be clear, THIS IS NOT THE JAMAICAN NATIONAL TEAM. This is a diaspora team, meaning it was made up of some Jamaican players, some heritage players, and some who just want to play to help the cause! But this IS a team affiliated with the Jamaican Lacrosse Association (JLA) nonetheless. Team Jamaica ended the weekend with an overall record of 3-3 and placed 6th out of 12 for the entire tournament. Not bad for a mixed team making their first appearance in international play, huh? This story really hits home for me because I went on a service trip to help establish lacrosse in Jamaica with Fields of Growth back in 2013 (but that's a story for another blog). My good friend, Jansen Atiatonharonkwen Nicholas (who I had the privilege to meet on my Fields of Growth trip) is even played for Team Jamaica in the LASNAI. When asked about the Jamaica Lax's first international appearance Nicholas said, "Its amazing, this team was formed so we can get the message out to Jamaicans living in both the USA and Canada, and work to build up an international team. I also always try to grow the medicine game whenever I can, and it's awesome that
is going to be on the Onondaga nation territory as well."
The tournament took place just outside of Syracuse, New York on the sacred grounds of the Onondaga Indian Reservation this year. Jamaica Lacrosse Association President (and personal friend of mine) Calbert Hutchinson was quoted on the importance of the tournament venue saying, "it carries some very heavy symbolism that the first time we represent Jamaica on the international stage, that we do it at the birth place of the game, surrounded by our brothers and sisters from the Iroquois Confederacy." But this doesn't come as a surprise to me, the JLA is predicated on honoring the history, culture, and roots of the indigenous people who first played our great sport.
Atiatonharonkwen and Hutchinson both noted the importance of the first international appearance for the JLA coming on Onondaga territory. Both also agree that this is just the first step for the JLA in terms of international lacrosse recognition. The LASNAI served as an important stepping stone in Jamaica's journey towards the 2018 FIL World Championships in Manchester, England. I personally cannot wait to see what is in store for Jamaica Lacrosse. With people like Atiatonharonkwen supporting the cause coupled with the passionate Hutchinson at the helm for Jamaica Lacrosse, I believe that the sky is the limit (that might even be an understatement)!
^Inaugural Jamaican/American Friendship Game, August 2013. Smile for me Jamaica! Jah Bless!!
PS. Fields of Growth is also responsible for introducing lacrosse to Uganda and bringing them to the FIL World Championships back in 2014... anyone else sensing #JamaicaVsUganda2018 ???