Grow the game or Grow the money?

It’s hard not to smile when you meet the girls from the Polish National Women’s Lacrosse Team, who in seven months will run into the English pitch to compete for medals at the World Championship. At the first glance you see a real tight team, and if you stay with them for a while longer, you will be infected with the uncommon wit and charm that each of the 23 players have. You can’t notice any the debutante jitters in them, but your whole attention is drawn to their uniqueness – even when they crack a joke like:

– Remind me…your man plays the short or the long stick?

You won’t get this sense of humor if you are not a laxer, but for sure you will be amazed by their laughter. It is so incredibly natural that it is hard to believe that just several months ago, most of them were total strangers to each other.

For many of them, this serious lacrosse adventure on the national level began during one of many hot weekends in Katowice. June 2015, two days when the capital of the Upper Silesia gathered nearly 70 girls who were to take part in the clinics or…in other words…the first unofficial training tryouts for the National Team. All the players that appeared on the next try-outs, were aware that it was only the beginning of the extraordinary adventure, but knew that the game is worth the candle – participation in the Rathbones 2017 FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, which is the Lacrosse World Championships for women teams. The idea which, until recently, has only been silently whispered, now is in the grasp of their hands. They only need to be one of the eighteen best in the country, just keep going this heat and murderous effort of the training. Only that much? As some information came out into the open during last several months…not only.

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The sun was shining wonderfully in August this year, when the Polish National Women’s Lacrosse Team went to Budapest for the tournament accompanying the European Championships Men Lacrosse. Competition proudly called Hungarian Open drew nine female national teams to Iszaseg allowed to spend a few days in a pleasant atmosphere of the summer, in addition to providing girls the opportunity to cheer the men’s national teams. A total chillout, isn’t that right? Well, not really.

In addition to the bad taste in the mouth, which was left by the tournament itself, both coach and organizational staff of PWNT received a surprising e-mail. The sender was the organizers of the World Championship and the topic was the lack of payment for the first entry fee for the tournament. Was that right? Everyone related to the staff scratched their heads, because the fee of $ 1,500 has been paid in March of the same year from the funds collected by the website PolakPotrafi a few months earlier. The first thought was that maybe they didn’t note the deposit. The second thought – they certainly did not note the deposit. The third thought that came after a careful analysis of the e-mail is not decent enough to be published. Well, the organizers informed that the $ 1,500 from the transaction has nothing to do with the entry fee to the tournament. The fee which had to be paid in two installments – the first until 31 July 2016, the second until 30th October 2016. It was the first week of August 2016 when we received the e-mail.

What were the sums? Let’s say you don’t need to be hit with lacrosse head this time to be just a little be stunned. Or perhaps befuddled. 5,000 and 12,000 pounds. Coverting it into PLN, it is respectively 26,000 and 63,000 Polish zloty, which together gives us the amount of 89,000PLN, an amount of money with which we can buy a new Audi A1 Sportback. Remember, that we are talking about the entry fee for championship.  Yes, nobody had spoken of such amounts before, yes, the previous info that appeared mentioned the amount of $ 1,500 (6,000 PLN) only. And best of all, it’s that email about deadline  to July 31, reached the Polish Lacrosse  Federation in the first days of August, with the explanation that it is impossible to attempt to contact the PFL from April! Well, strange – the team travels to tournaments, communicates with the outside world easily by email, but the organizers of the most important event in the world…can’t be reached. Sorry. Quick investigation explains it all – the same letter added at the end of the name in the email address of three mentioned contact people. Coincidence?

It is worth mentioning the resources they have in the Polish Lacrosse Federation. Men’s NT is self-funded team that works only with the contribution of his own players and staff. Women’s NT until mid-2015, also acted by this principle but in fact it did not function as a regular team, because before June 2015 it played only two tournaments. Thanks to funding from the Ministry of Sport and Tourism in preparation for non-Olympic sports of The World Games 2017, the budget has visibly increased. But there were (and still are) money resources that NT can spend only for preparing for the TWG, not the dreamed World Championships, not to mentioning using it to participate or cover the entry fee (PolakPotrafi and other similar actions).

Let’s do some quick math. The entry fee for the World Cup is less than 100,000 PLN which after dividing between the athletes, gives us the amount of nearly five thousand to line their own pockets. Looking at the national average, it is one hundred percent of payments for four months! Is it achievable? It sounds like mission impossible, but this time instead of Tom Cruise, we get Johnny English.

The amount of 89,000 PLN covers only the entry fee. It doesn’t cover accommodation, meals and transportation to the event. Quick calculations at this point are not needed, because the organizers have taken care of everything by preparing a special brochure (CLICK). We will learn from it that the cost of accommodation and meals are: „the cost per person, per night, is £ 120 GBP, Including VAT (total £ 1,440).” 7500 PLN per person. What athlete receives at this price?

„Twelve nights onsite accommodation at the University of Surrey Manor Park. Accommodation in single en-suite rooms (arriving Tuesday, July 11th  – departing Sunday, July 23rd)  * Private communal areas for teams * All meals (breakfast buffet, warm lunch and dinner buffet all served at the venue) * Airport Transfers – on official arrival and departure days * Closing Party (Saturday 22nd July)  * Commemorative programme and team photo for each member of the team * Free internet access (please note that it is hardwire access in bedrooms, Ethernet cable required”

It sounds luxurious and really, chapeau bas for such hospitality, but there is only one but… Multiply that per 18 players (not including reserve [5 people] and the coaching staff and physiotherapist), we obtain the amount of 135,000 PLN. Summing up with the entry fee – we’ve got 224,000 PLN. Advanced fun with math and dividing the cost of the event per team – 12,500 PLN. This is not the salary of four months, but almost a year! Have in mind that lacrosse in 90% of countries in the world is not a professional sport, but an amateur one, where the players go to school/ study / work every day. We know that this is an elite sport, but 12,500PLN?!

You remember that the championship is organized near London? It is in England. A long way from Poland. A vast amount of money to be paid for the transport, but comparing to the costs mentioned before…not worth mentioning.

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Someone may object that the amount offered by the organizers is fine. Enough to pay for a trip to the party of that rank and the Polish Lacrosse Federation is simply poor. Well, if somebody says so it must meet almost all the members of the European Federation, who have gradually began to boldly express his opposition.

First they began to do this behind the scenes, then started to express an open disapproval. ELF with Stephanie Migchelsen decided not to wait any longer and, in late August, also engaged in the subject. Did it help? Well, the news from Migchelsen expressing concern about the existing situation and requests to explain the decisions bounced like a lacrosse ball from the wall. With a loud echo. Despite the flood of messages organizers remained adamant and continued to reply only on convenient for them topics and adding the notorious reminders of the necessity of payment for the registration fee.

Stewards remained indifferent to all that which only deepened the problem rather than solved it. Through ELF the national teams started an official protest because of too high expected costs. Of course, you can ignore the voices of several people, though even such cases should be dealt with differently. Worse things come, when out of 27 national teams, 15 sign the letter. You have to be quite well-skilled to be able to upset over half of the participants a year before the beginning of the event. Among the signatures you can find European countries including Scotland, Czech Republic, Ireland and Finland. Some of the teams, such as Russia in advance announced that if no price cuts are introduced, they forgo participation in the event. We can only speculate whether other participants behind the great water were to enter the protest.

How did the organizers react to all of this? Unfortunately, they sat on the chairs and continued to sip their afternoon teas. Still reminded to pay money for the second part of the entry fee, every month becoming more and more boring with this message. The e-mail communication problems are still unsolved. Messages are answered after many days and sometimes even weeks, not always on the right subject. Sometimes you can even have the impression that the messages were lost somewhere in the depths of the Internet. Recently a short message referring to the resulting group of dissatisfaction has been sent. We could learn there that the previously presented prices will remain the same. The question of the entry fee will not change, but our good-hearted Englishmen set off in search of sponsors, which may cause a reduction in spending on the site. However, nothing is not brought about the issues of the protest.

This resulted in only subsequent messages expressing dissatisfaction and concern about the situation. In early November, the Czech Lacrosse Federation issued a request for disclosure of the budget of the event. Surprisingly for all, FIL quickly wrote back and promised to present it within 10 days. Well, we have the end of the year, and the details still has not been presented. Time runs fast, the event is getting closer, and more confusion constantly appear. Deadline for payment of the second part of the entry fee passed long time ago, the organizers did not draw any consequences from this. Instead, they continue to urge the payments as if they hoped that someone is tempted to do so. National Federations slowly make final decisions about their performance at the championship. Such matters does not solve the day-to-day planning of the event and the entire preparatory period in terms of logistics and training plans each with considerable anticipation, especially when it comes to outrageous amount of funds. The teams which paid the first part of a non-refundable entry fee are in the difficult position. They did it before the details of the remaining charges appeared. This is true for many NT, which at the moment are far from making any further payments on FIL account. The loss of £5,000 hurt, so most continue to fight on the battlefield. Some, however, end with nerves and gradually give up the trip to London. A few days ago, Finland NT did so. How surprising was the quick response of the organizers for this decision. Its content, however, was adequate to their previous strategy. The only thing they could afford to wish a wonderful holiday.

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Remember the joke from the beginning of the text? The one about short and long stick? This is the moment when we give you better, more accurate, where even a non-lacrosse person quickly catch the punch line.

Genre scene:
The organizers of the World Championships and FIL receives an official email from the Finnish National Team, in which their representative, Eeva says that unfortunately because of high costs and considerable uncertainty, NT will not be able to take part in the World Cup, which is the most important sporting event in the world of sport candidate to become an Olympic discipline. We can only guess that the tense atmosphere at homes of the Finnish players would not be changed even by Santa Claus with the sack full of lax gear.

Here, however, comes the answer from FIL. It reads as follows, and you please withdrawal of cups of tea.

Dear Eeva,
We are disappointed to hear of Finland’s withdrawal from the 2017 FIL Rathbone’s Women’s World Cup. We look forward to seeing Finland in the 2019 FIL Women’s U19 World Championship.
Have a wonderful holiday.
Best Regards,
Beth Stone
FIL Competition Chair

Have a wonderful holiday…

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It is no longer August, but a late December. Despite the astronomical winter, it’s not cold to us – the atmosphere is so hot, as if we were sitting in the Hungarian Iszaseg. Approaching the end of the year, seven months before the start of the event to which the whole female part of lacrosse Poland is getting ready. In seven months, 18 players with the eagle on the chest should be running into the English pitch, proudly representing their country at the event, the participation in which they did not even dream of at the start of their lacrosse adventure. There might be chance that they will be running into the field, but at the moment we are not sure what will happen. We’re not sure, because due to the incompetence of the organizers of the most important competitions, we are not given at this moment any worthy information or feedback. We survive on dreams and illusions.

Maybe we should do the same as some of the countries – pay the entire amount of the entry-fee and put trust in given word, waiting for months hoping it all goes well? Maybe we should start organising a money collection, ask our friends, look for sponsors and show the strength of the lacrosse family? Or maybe we should do as Finland, withdraw from the event and stop believing that we are able to raise such a sum in less than a year?

It is difficult here to say what will be the right choice. Sitting at the Christmas table, we will not fully feel the festive atmosphere, because somewhere, in the back of the head, there is the thought that on December 25th the answer from the organizers should come. Yes, exactly the one that we have been waiting for a few months. What to expect? It is not known. Will the sum change? We do not think.

We do not think also that we want to be now in th national teams coaching staffs’ shoes that for the last two years have been preparing their players for the most important event, devoting their time and health to the very end of the road to hear…or rather read: „Have a wonderful holiday.” How in such situation can you stand in front of the girls and say „Grow the Game”? We can’t, which is why we wrote this article.

Sincerely,
ZakrzywionyKij.pl
Polish independent site about lacrosse.