The Moscow Lacrosse Club

Selection_071This is a team sport. The American Indians played it hundreds years ago. The men’s version is a non-contact sport, which requires padding such as shoulder pads, winter gloves, helmets, elbow pads and sometimes rib guards.

As with football, rugby or hockey, whilst on the attack, the objective of the game is to score by shooting the ball into the opponent team’s goal. But Lacrosse players can use their sticks to catch, carry, and pass the ball, not just hit it. Defensively, the aim is to keep the opposing team from scoring and to gain the ball using the stick and body contact.

It was Texas-born David Diamonon, who founded ‘The Moscow Rebels’ (now renamed ‘The Moscow Lacrosse Club’). David’s secondary school was the only one in Texas which had a Lacrosse team and it was there that his love for the sport was kindled.

“When you are a part of establishing a new sport like this, it becomes a part of your life forever. At the time I was moving to the city, to Moscow, for work. I thought that creating a Lacrosse team where there was no team before and come back to the sport after a seven year break was something I’d like to do. It was a great way of sharing my new home with Russians and of meeting athletes. The idea was exciting because 2006 was the year of the first World Lacrosse Championship. I understood that in four year’s time, in 2010, would be the second games in which I wanted to take part in together with Moscow athletes. After starting the team in 2007 it took a long time to prepare a stable group of people who are ready to compete formally in an organized way. We didn’t manage to succeed. Now, however, the guys are skillful enough to participate in the next championship.” Said David.

Selection_072

Eugene Arkhipov, the club’s present captain and coach emigrated to America in the early 1990s but returned to Moscow in 2010, is continuing to develop Lacrosse in Russia.

Eugene explained: “In the USA I tried basketball, soccer, American football but Lacrosse is the best for me. I played it professionally six days a week at school and university. When I joined the Moscow team I tried to adapt it for Russia. We changed the name into ‘The Moscow Lacrosse Club’ and started acting not only as a team but also as a non-profit organization developing this sport in Russia. Instead of being a hobby, I wanted it to be something we can hold tournaments in. I felt that it is not enough to have games twice a year with the St. Petersburg Lacrosse team; when the guys come to practice a month before the match, play and then they disappear for 5 months. There should always be something leading us on, further. I decided that we should be going abroad and playing tournaments in Europe.

Selection_073“Our first international trip was a year ago to Brussels. There were many teams from Finland, France, Sweden and other countries. We played in Belgium, then with the St. Petersburg guys. In St. Petersburg we met a team from Helsinki and also had a match together. In two weeks we are going to Turkey for another international tournament.

“All the sportsmen are happy to represent and play for Russia in tournaments. In the beginning the team had more foreigners than Russians. Now it is vice verse. For most foreigners Lacrosse is like ‘oxygen’ in an international environment.”

One of the players, Peter Zwack came from America and joined the team a year ago. He has been playing this sport since 1964 during its growth period in the United Stated in the 1960s and 1970s. Peter is very happy to see Lacrosse growing in Russia. Despite his lack of time on the field, he has some experience which he gives to other team members. Another player, Hidenori Morii is from Japan. He has been playing for 5 years.

Selection_075“When I started to play Lacrosse at the university in Japan, the sport helped me make friends.” Sais Hidenori. “This proved true once again in Russia. In May I was playing a match in St. Petersburg and my arm was injured. I fell down but managed to get up again, and everyone warmly applauded. I will never forget it. It was too long to wait for the ambulance so my team mates took me to the hospital. Through Lacrosse, I really felt how kind the Russians are!”

“If you play regularly and work hard, you will succeed,” Arkhipov said. A lot of people, after playing a few times, understand that this is maybe not for them. We let them play as long as they are eager. We never turn anybody down.”

Playing Lacrosse in Moscow is expensive. Charges for hiring a field start at 5,000 roubles an hour. That’s a lot when the club isn’t making any money. For most of the guys, Lacrosse is still a hobby. Nevertheless, the team doesn’t have fees. New members don’t have to buy special sport equipment; it’s for free.

Selection_074

Eugene commented: “I was always for free sport. Whenever you start charging you turn off a lot of people. A lot of young people have incredible athletic abilities and no money to go to sport schools. For sure we have realized we need some capital to grow. Now we are looking for ways to find sponsorship. What we decided to do is to arrange a fund. After a practice session, each player gives fifty rubles, this helps to pay for new equipment and other necessary things for the team.”

Most expat players hope that Russia will be one of the countries to join the World Lacrosse Association, and would like to see Lacrosse; one of the oldest sports in the world, an Olympic sport again.

Lacrosse is very interesting; it combines elements of many different sports. “There is basketball in terms of strategy, movements, pick, roll and defense. There are the dynamics of football pitch, when you run very fast from one side to another. There is the atmosphere of a hockey ring because you wear a helmet with use a stick,” explained Arkhipov. Lacrosse is the sport of the future which always brings you back.

For more information, please contact Eugene Arkhipov +7 963 688 2884, madered24@hotmail.com

Pictures taken at a recent game in Turkey in which The Moscow Lacrosse Club took part.