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The Greek Lacrosse Association (GLA) is thrilled to announce tryouts dates for its Men’s team that will represent Greece at the World Games in Israel in July 2018. After being sanctioned by the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) in June 2017, the GLA has moved quickly to bring lacrosse to Greece initiating programs and hosting clinics in various cities. The next key milestone for the GLA is to field a Men’s team at the World Games to be held next summer.

Tryouts for the Men’s team will be held this November in New Jersey and will be open to all male players who are of Greek heritage, and 16 years of age or older as of July 1, 2018. The FIL has very specific regulations with respect to who can represent each country during the World Games, so please check the GLA website for specifics on player eligibility.

The first 80 players who register online will be accepted for tryouts. We have negotiated rates at a nearby hotel if you need a convenient place to stay. Please read carefully about proof of Greek heritage and also potential costs before you register.

The idea of starting lacrosse in Greece had been sitting on the stovetop for too many years, baffling those who have had good intentions in the past. Little by little, every European nation has become sanctioned over the last decade, while we waited for Greece to jump into the pot. Finally this past June, after months of preparation, the Greece Lacrosse Association (GLA) received official sanctioning from the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) to begin participating in their annual World Lacrosse Games.

Now the fun was just starting!

There were three immediate tasks we identified each one daunting in its own way. We had 13 months to send a men’s team to Netanya, Israel, in July of 2018 to compete with 50 plus other countries. We had a women’s U 19 Team to discover, train, and prepare for July 2019. And we had a men’s U 19 team to look ahead to in 2020. We quickly expanded our staff, putting different people in charge of each task. Pereles became the pied piper, carrying his stick around campus, and then introducing into phys ed classes first fundamentals, stick skills, small sided games and finally a 5 v 5 scrimmage. The reaction was electricand the administrators there were indeed surprised by the response to the game.

Due to demand from the kids, Pereles added in a high school lacrosse club for the final seven weeks,meeting three or fourtimes a week for 30 or 60 minutes a day at lunchtime. At the end of his stay in June, Pereleswas able to run several camps, involving both new and experienced players. All in all, a total of about 500 kids were exposed to the game of lacrosse in the spring, and the excitement is spreading through the campus of over 1,000 students. Partemian has seen the positive reaction from students and faculty alike and is designing an independent study class where future teachers and coaches will have a 90 minute session weekly to learn the game and improve their mastery. US Lacrosse has created a physical education curriculum for introducing the game in schools, and that is the model they are following.

PHASE TWO: The women’s U 19 Games in 2019 seemed like a perfect target to develop a group of young girls to make up the bulk of the Greek Team. This phase needed a slightly different approach to really jump start the program. I knew that there was only one very energetic lady who could make it all happen very quickly, and so it was on a cold, wintery late February day in New York City that I sat down with the women’s guru whom I had known for over 20 years Cathy Samaras and we began having some fun concocting a plan to not only make it happen, but to put together a Greek women’s team that would compete right from their very first International experience. As proud Greeks, we knew that we had to create something special (the Olympic heritage of Greece hanging over our heads)and Greek Pride suggesting that it would have to be done well no red tape, no obstacles, just get it done. I asked her to come on board as the Women’s Director for the Greece Lacrosse Association the Head Honcho for us! What transformed over the next few months was beyond even my wildest dreams;the speed at which her vision emerged as a reality was like a magic trick snap your fingers and a magic genie appears,or in this case 100 Greeks ready to learn the game of lacrosse out of nowhere!

I knew that once Cathy took over the reins, not only a new vision, but also new energy would materialize, which would only lead to success, tackling all obstacles with ease. A simple phone call and her cousin Maria Samara quickly took charge of the work in Trikala, Greece she put together a 4 day lacrosse clinic in June at an amazing venue Krinitsa Stadium.

Stephy Samaras Mantziaras, former All American and Team USA star, joined Cathy in putting on the clinic. Stephy is slated to be the U 19 Team’s coach in 2019,
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and what better person is there to continue the Greek Olympic Tradition of greatness? On the way to the airport, Cathy called me and nonchalantly informed me they were carrying six bags of over 100 women’s sticks donated by STX for the girls in Trikala.

Maria was quickly made our Regional Coordinator in Trikala, the third largest city in Greece and our second Greek Coordinator in three months. With the support of her immediate boss, Vassiliki Kakla, she quickly convinced Dr. Vassilis Gerodimos (Associate Professor in charge of Physical Education at TEFAA) and Dr. Yiannis Koutedakis (Dean of the Department of Physical Education Sport Science) to attend the clinic and bring along a group of 20 future physical education teachers. The biggest coup was also getting Mayor Dimitrios Papastergiou to give a shot and see what was being done with this new mysterious game. In four days, his head was turning, as he saw the effect of the clinic on all involved.

“It was extremely good,” he told me, “and totally unexpected. Every girl involved, in addition to the coaches and physical education teachers, all learned the rules, the philosophy and the goals of the game. The girls were very enthusiastic about the way it was presented.”

At the conclusion of the clinic, he committed to further support down the road.

“I believe in sports and we will work hard to help make it succeed,”Papastergiou said.

His Deputy Mayor Efthymia Leventi served as the direct link between the mayor’s office and Maria Samara, was very proud that Krinitsa Stadium served as the facility for the clinic to take place.

The local girls soccer team in Trikala has achieved much success, participating in the highest level league in all of Greece Division 1. Many of those athletes came along with the Team president, Stella Papachristou, and head coach George Loules, both of whom thought it was a good idea for the girls to try their hand at lacrosse, too.

“When I first heard that somebody was coming to teach us lacrosse, I had no idea what that sport was,” says Ifigenia Tsaknaki, a 15 year old member of the local girls’ soccer team.”I felt curious as to find out what it was like, that’s why I came to the clinic. Then I saw the stick and the ball and realized it was pretty skillful. But when Miss Stephy showed us the different techniques, how to pass the ball, I understood that I was doing quite well. At that point, I started having fun, especially in the end when we actually played six on six. There is no doubt that creating a women’s lacrosse team in Greece is a wonderful idea since it is something original which will certainly urge other kids to get involved with this sport, too.

“The girls who participated are looking forward to sharing the game with their friends, having become infatuated with the game of lacrosse.”

Cathy’s husband George has cousins from Trikala, and having local Trikalians with world class lacrosse experience introduce and hatch the sport of lacrosse right there is truly amazing, and an advantage that most new countries learning the game have no access to. Greek kids being taught by Greek Americans is a winning combination and one that will become clearer and more evident as time goes by. Two clinics coming this October will probably double or triple the participation and between Thessaloniki and Trikala, there are now two very established centers from which the Greek Lacrosse bubble is ready to explode.

PHASE THREE: This involves getting a men’s team ready for next summer, and involves a whole lot of things to come together: a team of dedicated and unselfish behind the scenes staff is rushing to coordinate tryouts, new uniforms, paperwork and travel arrangements to make the dream of fielding a team come true. One year ago, lacrosse in Greece was still a pipedream; this month, we will be pushing forward both in Greece and the United States to keep the momentum going, and expand step by step, gradually pushing the torch to those in Greece to have the skillset, knowledge, coaches and officials to expand the game not only on the entire mainland, but also to various key islands, like Crete,
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and anywhere else that kids in Greece want to dream about becoming lacrosse players.