Tim Morgan, FIL Communications, asked China Lacrosse leadership for a brief walkthrough of their preparations for and eventual finish at the 2016 FIL U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship. Edwin Yu, China Lacrosse’s head coach, graciously responded to the question with the below accounting of their journey. It’s quite a story, so I thought I’d share it with the international lacrosse community.
First and foremost, our Spirit of the Lacrosse recipient, Ziyan Zeng, spearheaded China Lacrosse’s U19 journey, as it was his diligence and dedication that made the team possible. It started in Thailand, at the 2015 ASPAC tournament where Ziyan gathered, scouted and cultivated many of the players that would comprise the core of the U19 team in Coquitlam. While he found the numbers of potential players and quality of play to be lacking, he was not discouraged; he was, instead, motivated by the amount of work left to do. Shortly after the ASPAC, I was appointed as head coach. I decided that Ziyan would be my offensive coordinator. Together we would scout and interview prospective players and develop an overall game plan. We also sourced, designed and arranged for the team’s uniforms and equipment. Ziyan also worked tirelessly to make sure that all of our player’s needs were met from food to lodging, to practice field access. He also looked after family members travel arrangements.
For a long time, it seemed that we would be too short on numbers to even field a team. Getting the 19 players that we did get to Coquitlam was a struggle. One of our captains and defensive stalwarts, Qi Wang (Ben), was adamant that he could not attend the tournament until five days before the team was set to land in Coquitlam. Ultimately, it was the generosity of Ron Balls, and the FIL, as first time entrants, to allow us dispensation for seven players with Chinese eligibility (rather than the usual four) but without Chinese passports that made the final team roster possible. These seven players all made excellent contributions with a particular recognition to Kevin Dong and Andrew Song for being the first-ever Chinese players to be appointed to a FIL President’s Team. In Coquitlam, the team came together to become a tight-knit group, and roles were immediately defined and embraced. The players worked hard in the first week of practices, going twice a day, quickly picking up our offensive and defensive sets. A few more experienced hands would join the staff, as Gordon Muldoon and Barton Wheeler would reprise their roles from Denver as defensive coordinator and bench coach respectively. While the staff had a familiar feel, the team was nothing like the team that went to Denver in 2014. This team was ready and eager to compete, and not being happy with just taking part, they took over games. The 5-2 record and 9th place finish, while maybe shocking to some, was not to us. We wanted to push into the 4th to 8th place bracket but ran out of steam versus Ireland. Projected by many to finish the tournament somewhere between 12th and 14th place, the effort and execution of these young men helped the team beat those predictions and cannot be understated.
China Lacrosse FIL U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship Photo Gallery
For a coaching staff and association, this tournament was a landmark in many ways. The China Lacrosse Association became a full member nation in the FIL and achieved our greatest placements both as a team and as individual players. The U19’s were truly the first time we can honestly say that we played “China Lacrosse.” This coaching staff and this team set the blueprint for what China Lacrosse should be – we played a brand of lacrosse that was fast, hard, decisive; one where we embraced transition, executed on special teams and took pride in our technical abilities. All of the players, families and staff had a wonderful experience, and we look forward to Ireland in 2020!
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About the CLA
The China Lacrosse Association is a committee of dedicated coaches, passionate players, and supporters of the game of Lacrosse. As a developing program within the Federation of International Lacrosse, the China Lacrosse Association will aim to play and host international tournaments, to build friendly relationships with neighboring countries, and, foremost, to teach and support the development of Lacrosse in China.