N lax – A Vision for Dutch Lacrosse Top Sport 1.02
NLax – A VISION FOR DUTCH LACROSSE TOP SPORTBackground and HistoryThis document presents a vision for the development of top sport in lacrosse for the Netherlands. Topsport is dependent on the parallel development of the underlying grassroots sport. Where thedevelopment of grass roots sport impacts the development of top sport it will be discussed here.Lacrosse is one of the oldest team sports in the world still playedtoday. It originated with Native Americans and may havedeveloped as early as AD 1100. By the seventeenth century itwas well established although the game has undergone manymodifications since that time.In 1856 the first Lacrosse club was founded in Montreal, Canada.In 1890 the first women’s game was played. Lacrosse wasplayed as an Olympic sport for the 1904 and 1908 games. It wasthen dropped as an official sport in 1912. Lacrosse returned as ademonstration sport in the 1928 games (in Amsterdam) as wellas the 1932 and 1948 games.With lacrosse no longer having an official Olympic sport status, the pinnacle of international lacrossecompetition consists of the quadrennial World Championships. Currently, there are worldchampionships for lacrosse at the senior men, senior women, under 19 men and under 19 womenlevels. Lacrosse has begun to flourish at an international level with the sport establishing itself in many new and far-reaching countries, particularly in Europe and the Far East. The international expansion of the game saw the 2006 Mens World Championship contested by 21 countries (London, Ontario, Canada), the 2009 Womens World Cup (Prague, Czech Republic) contested by 16 nations and the 2010 World Cup (Manchester, UK) contested by 30 countries. The 2013 Women’s World Cup in Oshawa, Canada will have 19 nations competing and the 2014 Men’s World Cup in Denver, USA will have around 40 nations competing clearly demonstrating the rapid international growth of the sport.Not only the number of countries is rapidly expanding but also the number of players. In both the USAas in the Netherlands, for example, it is the fastest growing team sport.Besides the world championships, the European Lacrosse Championships isthe next largest international field lacrosse competition. Held for both men andwomen, the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF) has been running theEuropean Championships since 1995. The European LacrosseChampionships were held in Lahti, Finland in 2008 and the most recent ELFChampionships were successfully hosted in Amsterdam in 2012 demonstratingthat the NLB has been able to build its organizational capabilities.
Dutch InvolvementThe game was introduced into the Netherlands around 2000. TheNetherlands first international tournament was in 2004 when the mensteam competed at the European Lacrosse Championships in Prague,Czech Republic. The womens first campaign was in 2008 when the teamparticipated at the European Lacrosse Championships in Lahti, Finland.There are around 25 active clubs in the Netherlands. The national teamprograms are supported by a burgeoning domestic club competition. Thenational competition consists of 15 mens teams divided over 3 divisionsand 13 women’s teams divided over 2 divisions.The Nederlandse Lacrosse Bond (NLB) is the official governing body of lacrosse in the Netherlands.The NLB sponsors both a mens and womens national team. The NLB is a full member of both theInternational Lacrosse Federation (ILF) and the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF) and since 2012is also a member of the NOC-NSF.Leveraging Dutch Sport Strong PointsWe are analyzing how best to leverage existing Dutch sport strong points. For example, there areimportant similarities between lacrosse and field hockey. In fact, the very name la crosse ("the stick”)may have originated from the French term for field hockey, le jeu de la crosse. Both games are teamplayer based with 11 players (field hockey) compared to 10 players (men’s lacrosse) or 12 players(women’s lacrosse) who need to get the ball in the opposing team’s goal. Both games require athleticcapability, a certain amount of “hustle” and technical mastery of using a stick to manipulate the ball.For the women’s game both games have about the same level of body contact. The men’s lacrossehas more body contact compared to men’s hockey. Players in men’s lacrosse wear more protectivegear including helmets, shoulder and elbow guards which gives it a superficial resemblance toAmerican football. Both games require approximately the same attitude and aptitude. It is thesesimilarities that give the games a high crossover capability from one to the other. There are also significant differences, which provide each game its unique niche. Whilst lacrosse midfield play has strong similarities with field hockey, the placing of the goals within the field (similar to that in ice hockey) creates different attack dynamics that more closely resemble that of ice hockey whilst the defense dynamics bear similarities to basketball. Another important aspect is that lacrosse places fewer requirements on the playing surface due to the fact that the ball is played through the air. All that is required is a safe running surface. Hockey fields, football fields, rugby fields all can be used as lacrosse playing areas. Goals are small and easily transportable.This means that lacrosse can often make use of currently available infrastructure. Indoorlacrosse and beach lacrosse are both established sports meaning that the sport can (ifdesired) be played year round.For players who have played both games, lacrosse (culture) is often described as somewhat“edgier” or “rawer”. Lacrosse also brings its own very strong culture and identity that alongwith its long history gives the sport a lot of “depth” and Laxers possess their own subculture.
We Have a Dream We have a dream. We are setting out on a long and difficult journey. We intend to become a world-class lacrosse country and we are giving ourselves 15 years to do it. Every journey begins with a single step and one of those steps is our journey to the 2013 Womens Lacrosse World Cup being held in Oshawa, Canada from July 10-20.We believe that the investments that have been made in the social, cultural, playing skill developmentand infrastructural capabilities for field hockey that has brought the Netherlands to world-class levelcan be highly leveraged towards lacrosse. If those capabilities are adopted and adapted by the Dutchlacrosse sport community then we have reason to believe that over time the Netherlands can and willbecome a world-class lacrosse country.To get where we want to go will require vision, strategy, sacrifice, leadership,discipline and strength of purpose. It will also require enthusiasm, joie devivre and an unbridled passion for and love of the game, all of which we haveand in abundance. At times we may stumble and fall but the only recoursewill be to pick ourselves up and continue on this epic journey.In a certain sense, lacrosse may compete with field hockey but, just as in thebusiness world, competition will create a stronger (sport) marketplace. Thesports can share facilities and capabilities making both more efficient andeffective.And in the words of any lacrosse coach worth his or her salt: Eat, Sleep and Play Lacrosse!Strategic Dutch Sport Goals From a geo-political sport perspective lacrosse can considerably strengthen the Anglo-Saxon sport connection (US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand are all strong lacrosse countries) thereby enriching the sport portfolio across which the Netherlands operates which dovetails with the Netherlands’ traditional role of acting as a political, cultural and sociological bridge between the Anglo-Saxon world and continental Europe. The Netherlands sport has profited from two decades of professionalization of infrastructure (including top sport subsidies), sport development capability improvements and a stronger social and cultural appreciation of and bias to sport. Yet, according to the Department of Sport Development, UtrechtUniversity, the Netherlands position as a sport nation based on population size and GNP warrants only tha 24 place. Nevertheless, the Netherlands has achieved a top 10 position and has the ambition tostay in the top 10.However, that professionalization will only go so far as other (far larger) countries play catch-up aseconomic improvement occurs allowing more money to be put into sports. The Netherlands musttherefor look to new ways of maintaining its position in the top 10. This is where lacrosse can play astrategic role as being one of the new sports that can be targeted and developed leveraging existingproven Dutch sport capabilities.
NLax Vision The NLB is formulating a vision for bringing the Netherlands into the lacrosse world top. To answer the question of how realistic this is we look to Australia for some interesting insights. Australia men’s lacrosse is currently ranked in the top 3 worldwide. It is worth noting that Australia has a similar (if slightly larger) population size and an almost identical GDP to that of the Netherlands. What is significant however is that Australia men’s field hockey is also ranked in the top 3 worldwide. We believe that Australia is actually making use of the leveraging effect described above.Since the Netherlands women’s field hockey is currently consistently rated at #1 in the world we havereason to believe that, should the Netherlands use the same leveraging as we believe Australia does,then, over time, the Netherlands Women’s Lacrosse can rank in the top 3.The following strategic priorities have been identified • Strengthen access and opportunity for all o Develop, prioritize and establish strategies to increase top sport player participation o Develop cost-effective solutions for entry into the game especially for the youth o Empower and mobilize parents • Strengthen lacrosse’s organizational structure and infrastructure • Strengthen and ensure long-term financial viability o Increase contributions from donors and grants o Increase non-member sources of support including sponsorship and crowd-funding • Elevate the visibility of the organization and sport o Develop and implement branding strategies for lacrosse events and programs o Formalize public relations and communication strategies to increase awareness of Dutch Lacrosse (top sport) and the sport of lacrosse • Leverage knowledge and capabilities on long term and strategic sport development from the Dutch field hockey community and the NOC-NSF.
The NLax vision development program is broken down into four phases of approximately 3-4 years each: 1. Create strong development programs for all age groups. 2. By 2018 Consistently rank within the top 3 European lacrosse countries. 3. By 2023 consistently rank within the top 6 lacrosse countries globally 4. By 2028 be prepared for introduction of lacrosse in the possible 2028 ‘Dutch’ Olympic Games and consistently rank within the top 3 lacrosse countries globally.NLax Development ProgramsIn order to facilitate the growth of lacrosse top sport in The Netherlands a multi-faceteddevelopment program will be embarked upon with as key outcomes: • More volunteers, coaches and officials involved to a higher professional standard • Formalized and effective communication strategy • Raised profile and general awareness of the game • Improved world level performance by producing championship winning teams • Increased and diverse sources of funding • Greater access to appropriate facilities • An effective and well run organization
Specifically the NLB intend to create or are in the process of creating a: • National Team Program. The Women’s Dutch National Team development program has been initiated early this year. It is the intention to roll out similar programs to the men’s lacrosse and the under-19 teams. • Player development programs. The National Team programs will cascade down into general player development programs. Players for the national teams will be instrumental in passing on knowledge and skills into the local teams. • Coach development program. • Referee development program. • Parental Program. • Organizational development programs and strong integration into the NOC-NSF and national sport processes.NLax Phase 1 TBD: A Phase 1 breakdown into as many steps as there are years in this phase with a description of what will be done and achieved in the first year.