The NZBLAX team is a powerhouse of eager, enthusiastic, disciplined women, completely devoted and dedicated to their sport. The New Zealand Women’s National Lacrosse Team are focused and passionate about representing their country at the 2017 FIL World Cup in England.
The team is full of intensity, spirit, dedication, devotion and zest. The intentions have been set, and the team are committed to their goal to place within the top 5 finalists at the 2017 World Cup.
“I can do anything I want if I’m ready to work hard at it. I am strong both physically and mentally, I am determined and will work hard. We are all capable of achieving our goals” (LR)
Lacrosse is a team game, originally played by native North American Indians, in which a small galvanised rubber ball is thrown, carried, and caught with a long-handled stick that has a curved frame at one end with a piece of shallow netting in the angle. You score a goal by throwing the ball into the goal of the opponent. The aim of the game is to outscore your opponent. It is a contagious mix of ancient traditions and explosive energy. There is nothing quite like it.
With the speed and power of rugby and hockey and the endurance, agility and strategy of soccer and basketball, this game is exciting and thrilling to watch and even more astounding to play. Women’s lacrosse prohibits body contact and requires swiftness strength and agility creating a graceful game of tremendous energy and spirit.
Still fresh to New Zealand, yet centuries old for North America the popularity of the sport is experiencing rapid growth and it is the dedicated New Zealand players and coaches that are helping to create this trend. This is no easy task with all coaches and administrators being volunteers and the financial demands on each player being extreme.
The faithful and devoted NZBLAX coaching team, have set the desired benchmark of placing in the top 5 at the 2017 FIL World Cup Tournament and have also created and developed a world class preparation programme for the players.
This programme is more than just physical training and game practice, “it is all encompassing and purposeful, with significant carryover to our physical ability, mental strength, tactics, reflection, team building, workshops. The programme challenges all of us, regardless of our age, ability or background, the program is phenomenal” (LR)
2017 will be the Fourth time New Zealand has been represented at a Lacrosse World Cup Tournament, with improved results every time. The groundwork has been done, now it is time to roll out even more success.
The team are performing at the top level of their sport. Many international athletes are paid full time to perform like this. The NZBLAX women are working full time in other jobs, studying part time, planning weddings, training daily and trying to balance and juggle families, relationships, friends and life “participating in amateur sport is tough, perhaps tougher than professional sport in some regards. Amateur sport requires the same effort, time, sacrifice, mental strength, focus and determination as seen in professional sport, but with the extra burden of limited resources, often due to financial limitations and time.”(LR)
An average training week consists of two strength sessions, two sprint training sessions, one endurance session, time with personal trainer for plyometrics, agility and individual programs, team training time, stick and shooting practice. There is at least 2-3 hours everyday dedicated to their sport. “Then there’s viewing games to see what people are doing and improving your technique, learning tactics and moves” (LR)
Commitment to the cause is an understatement. “Sometimes you just have to want it more and be prepared to work harder, and sacrifice regularly to be an amateur athlete” (LR)
With assisted funding directed to the correct areas of the sport the huge financial pressures that burden the players would be taken away, resulting in even more focus and attention to the game at hand, and ultimately achieving the desired goals.
The basic costs include; training facility costs, training equipment, uniforms for the 2017 team, development assistance for all involved, training initiatives, drill and coaching manuals, individual cleats, sticks, boots, athletic tape “you name it” (TL) Relying on the generosity of friends and family, and the team’s personal finances is becoming an unachievable stretch.
The total expenses for each player will reach well over NZD$12,000. Many of these costs will inhibit players from participating, even once selected for the National team. “Girls drop out because they can’t afford to keep playing, they might end up as one of the best on the team, so it sucks they have to give up” (TL)
One of the NZBLAX players works at Starship children's hospital as a cardiorespiratory physiotherapist, studying in her spare time, holding down a mortgage and still finds the discipline to play and fund her lacrosse at a world class level.
It is not just Lacrosse players the country is creating, but astounding role models that are being developed.
Throughout these cumbersome training regimes, and lifestyle challenges the NZBLAX women are acquiring skills not only in Lacrosse but in time management, prioritisation, commitment, dealing with social implications and the whirlwind of being amateur athletes.
Lacrosse as a sport offers endless opportunities for New Zealand children. It offers a position for every single person and their individual talent. It is a great opportunity for future generations who do not fit the standard mould for team sports to be able to participate and reap the rewards of being a team player. The results would prove immeasurable, not just for the NZBLAX but for the entire community.
Lacrosse as a youngster gives children and teens the opportunity to “learn more about teamwork, hard work, self discipline and sacrifice - on and off the field. It then aids the foundations of learning about inner strengths and weaknesses and how to overcome them. Most of the girls began the sport as an outlet, a place to focus my energy in a positive way” - LR.
The continuation of developing outlets for our youth to participate in makes complete sense. Funding for this team to achieve their short term goal at the 2017 World Cup tournament will certainly not be a ‘one hit wonder’ but it will create a snowball effect for future generations.
“Playing lacrosse has helped me develop focus and commitment as an individual but also team awareness as part of the wider group. It has enabled me to make some of my closes friends over the years and has also beenconstant when other areas of my life have been changing” - LR
The programme the the NZBLAX are being built up with includes mental, technical and tactical strength training and also vital character development, team cohesion and leadership skills. All necessary to be successful on the scoreboard and beyond. It is pivotal that the team share the same ethos, mindset, attitude and ideology. The largest gap in training would come from not being able to spent this time working on the team culture, values and beliefs.
It is the women’s talent, drive, commitment and belief that has brought them so far, but now we call for support from you. Watching the players, and listening to their power and passion is exciting, they have the determination to achieve their goals. They do, however require some fundamentals to make this journey. “It’s the little things that having enough funding would mean, we could have a small pool to cool down in, instead of standing in a rubbish bag with ice” or “we could travel in one bus and talk about our team and use that time effectively instead of being separated in eight cars” - (LR)
These women are ingrained with a passion for their sport “Passion and self belief is what allows amateur international athletes to sacrifice other aspects of life to participate. Playing sport, especially international, is expensive therefore in order to work and train at an international level, I believe that all high level amateur athletes possess and underlying gritty quality that gets them up every day and then it’s their uncanny desire and strong drive that gets them through.” (LR)
New Zealand can support this electric, dynamic team. Keep these phenomenal all inclusive training programmes running. Aid in the creation of amazing kiwi athletes who have the mental and physical capacity to handle all that life throws at them. Learning how to act on the field is one thing, but these training programmes equip the athletes with life skills and the education and knowledge to be able to act calmly, rationally yet make life changing, responsible and resourceful decisions in the boardroom, in the school PTA meeting or potentially even while running the country. “It can get pretty stressful and the older girls with their knowledge and experience know how to calm us down, and get us back to basics” (TL)
Supporting the NZBLAX is also supporting the future of the country.
As the country watch these women overcome challenges on and off the field and learn from retired players who become coaches, officials and administrators the younger generation will be equiped with new skill sets, inspiration, motivation and committed attitudes.
“After each training camp I see women feeling more empowered within themselves, the camps teach women how to work in teams, by being more insightful and accepting of who they are so they can be more accommodating to others around them” LR
Members of our entire New Zealand community will be affected by the positive aspects of this sport and the success of the NZBLAX. It is your generosity and support that helps shape the nation.
Support this ground breaking team, and let’s reap the rewards as a country.