January 18, 2015

Portuguese lacrosse in a nut shell

President of Portugal Lacrosse Association, Rui Conde and Szymon Kowalewski speaks about history of lax in Portugal, Lisbon teams and first league season.

Szymon Kowalewski had a chance to play in first, historical round of Portuguese Lacrosse League. We've asked him about this sport in Portugal. We spoke also with Rui Conde - President of Portuguese Lacrosse Association.

PH.PL: How can you describe the beginning of lacrosse in Portugal?

R.C.: It started almost by accident. A guy from Coimbra needed to do a school project about a presentation of a sport in the school pavilion. At the time (2008), Box Lacrosse was broadcasted on EuroSport2. He saw it and thought about Lacrosse for the school project He asked ELF and FIL to help him at the same time. FIL and ELF saw an opportunity to introduce Lacrosse in Portugal and sent Lacrosse gear to him. It should have been a great thing but it wasn't. Instead of showing Lacrosse to others, to other cities in Portugal, that same guy held the offered gear to Portugal like it was offered to Coimbra only. That led to all sorts of problems because as you know, it's hard to develop Lacrosse without having any Lacrosse gear to lend to others to try it. That made Lacrosse possible in Coimbra and impossible all over Portugal. Only by 2010, Lacrosse started in Lisbon. At the same time, Coimbra was dying for several reasons,  lack of leadership being one of the reasons. By 2011, Associação Portuguesa de Lacrosse was born, since then our goal is to show Lacrosse and to get more people into playing it.
PH.PL: How does Lacrosse looks like now?
R.C.: I would say that in 3 years we have definitely done the basics but we have a lot to do. We need more people involved, it cannot be me plus one or two more guys  doing all the work, we need more players getting into the role of “workers” and helping us spreading the word. We recently started female Lacrosse and it's growing very  well, we were lacking a key aspect to start female Lacrosse which was, the first girl, the moment we manage to have one, others started to join.
PH.PL: Tell us something more about Portuguese Lacrosse League.
R.C.: After several try’s we managed to separate the main group of players in Lisbon and manage to have 3 teams which are Lisbon, Almada and Cascais.  I usually say the teams are branches from the same tree. We realized that we had people coming to practice from nearby cities and we decided to name the teams with the names of those cities (Almada anda Cascais are really close to Lisbon). We have 3 teams competing, the team with the most players – Lisbon - lends players to the smaller teams in order for those 3 teams to happen, and we do a Draft trying to even the teams in numbers and in quality. We hope to add a new team to the League for next year. We're doing everything possible to have a new team in Porto (male and female).
PH.PL: We can say that Portugal Lacrosse League has a tournament formula?
R.C.: Yes, you can call it a Tournament Formula, we call it Game Days. Our League is a 6 Game Day competition. In every Game Day we have 3 games, with every team playing the other two teams once, which mean that by the end of Game Day 6, every team played each other team 6 times for a total of 12 games. The order of the games is  completely fair, meaning that in all 6 Game Days, each team will rest between games twice, will play the first two games of the day twice and play the last two games  of the day twice. Since teams are playing two games in the same day, games are two halves of 15 minutes with a 5 minute break only 1 timeout allowed per half.  The non-playing team is refereeing the game and is responsible for all the stats and ball catchers. We usually start at 10:30AM and have the GameDay finished by 1PM.
PH.PL: How does referee’s matters looks like?
R.C.: In Portugal we have several FIL level 1 refs and we also have Ref Clinics that we call Basic Level and we also allow those Basic Level Refs to officiate the games. After the games, all refs and CBO are evaluated by 4 people in 5 categories from 0 to 5 , which mean a total of 0 to 25 and, since there are 4 evaluations, we have all refs and CBOs, evaluated from 0 to 100. Our goal is to promote better officiating by rewarding the better Refs.
PH.PL: How about Portugal National Team?
R.C.: I started some contacts with possible Coaches to help us pick the 23 that we would like to have present in Euro 2016. That would be our first presence in International events as a National Team. We had a Portuguese player in Denver 2014 playing for team Spain (double nationality) and, his experience was a good thing for others to know that if he was able to be part of such event, all others can and should think of being there as Portuguese National Team.
Szymon Kowalewski on Portuguese Lacrosse League: Lacrosse level in Portugal isn't too high. Portuguese would have a problem if they played in PLL2. First team was created only several years ago and there is not too much teams from which they could learn. All players create actually one big group who practice lacrosse together. The group was divided into three regions, so they can play against each other. They teams contain 7 players and the ground is smaller than the standard one.  However I really enjoyed playing with them and I think they have potential to play a good lacrosse in a future. We had a good time and everybody was very positive.
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