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Focus On ... Lacrosse

Lacrosse Scotland’s Student Ambassador programme is giving more and more school-aged pupils a taste of the game

With the decision for lacrosse to feature in the 2028 Olympic games announced late last year, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in the sport.   

Growing the game 

Though played in some schools across the country, Lacrosse Scotland is eager to see the provision of the sport expanded significantly over the next few years; this is where the Student Ambassador programme comes in. 

Development Officer at Lacrosse Scotland, Hannah Buluwela said: 

“The programme is part of our mission to get more school-aged pupils to pick up a lacrosse stick and try out our sport. We introduced the Student Ambassadors programme this year, which has allowed us to deliver lacrosse to schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews. Our Student Ambassadors visit both secondary and primary schools a few times a week to coach various groups. 

For those schools that don’t have an existing set-up, the student ambassadors have been introducing the game to both pupils and staff and working from the ground up. For the schools that already have some form of lacrosse set-up, on the other hand, the student ambassadors support the delivery of lacrosse through running tournaments and offering CPD to PE Staff teaching the sport when they have never played lacrosse themselves. 

Phoebe Thornett studies sports management at Edinburgh University, plays for the Senior Scotland Women’s Team and is the Edinburgh Student Ambassador. Phoebe currently works with 4 schools around the city and has delivered taster sessions to a handful of others. She told us: 

“I went to a primary school recently that didn’t have a programme, so it was a case of going in with some sticks and giving everyone a flavour of the game. I also spoke to the staff about how they can be utilising Lacrosse Scotland for equipment, and for me to come in on a regular basis.” 

Developing coaches 

Working closely with the PE department is one of the key aspects of the programme with the ambassadors supporting staff to get up to speed with the game and deliver sessions themselves. 

Hannah said: 

“Sustainability is essential to the work that we do. When we introduce a lacrosse club to a school that has never played before, we follow up with CPD to equip PE staff with the right skills to continue the sport themselves. We recently launched our new coaching award, so now we can qualify PE Staff as lacrosse coaches - boosting their confidence and solidifying their understanding of the sport. This way we can ensure our programme has a real, lasting impact.” 

Every school works slightly differently and the flexible nature of the Student Ambassador programme caters to this. Whilst some schools schedule regular sessions with their ambassadors, others may have just 1 or 2 taster sessions and create their own set-up from there. 

“That’s what’s great about the programme - the schools decide what the relationship looks like, and they don’t need to make a huge commitment,” Phoebe said. 

The Lacrosse Foundation (TLF) are a funding body which offers grants to lacrosse clubs at a grass-roots level. This allows schools to purchase equipment and take part in further coaching qualifications to grow lacrosse from a lunch-time club to a competitive team sport. A few of the schools that Lacrosse Scotland has been involved with have received funding and started their own lacrosse clubs already. 

Though still in the early stages, the programme is already having a positive impact on the schools involved. For Phoebe, the best part of her role is experiencing the young people’s excitement for the new sport. She said: 

“Because it’s something a bit different to their core sports, the young people get so excited about trying it out for the first time.” 

A new era 

Back in October last year, the International Olympic Committee announced the approval of lacrosse in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Although the sport was featured as a demonstration sport in the 1928, 1932 and 1948 Olympics, it was in 1908 that lacrosse was last played as part of the competitive games. 

“You can definitely feel the buzz around lacrosse at the moment and we really want to use that energy to get more young people involved,” Hannah said. 

“Even though women’s lacrosse and men’s lacrosse are two separate sports, we see that girls and boys take to the game with equal excitement. I’m hoping that engaging kids in lacrosse now allows them to enjoy following the sport in the 2028 Olympics - so they can say ‘I’ve played that sport before!’ when they are watching it on TV.”  

With more and more schools enquiring about getting the Lacrosse Scotland Student Ambassadors in for a session, it looks to be a busy year for the sport in Scotland. Looking ahead to the summer, Phoebe is looking forward to delivering sessions in primary schools across the city as part of their health week and introducing even more young players to the sport 

Continuing the pathway 

The impact of the programme is also starting to show on the next step of the pathway, with a number of pupils who took part in Phoebe and Hannah’s taster sessions joining local club, Edinburgh Thistle.  

A number of junior players at the club are now involved in the Scotland talent pathway, so it’s hoped that some of the taster session participants may even be future stars on the international stage.  

A popular mantra in lacrosse is ‘grow the game’, and the Student Ambassadors are certainly playing their part in giving pupils their first taste of the newest Olympic sport.  

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