A Brief History of the European Lacrosse Championships
The rich history of lacrosse in Europe dates back to 1867 when a team of Native Americans from the Iroquois tribe were brought over to demonstrate the sport to the people of England. Shortly after the Iroquois introduced the sport to Europe it began to spread. Lacrosse moved from England, to the rest of the UK, and then to other parts of the continent. Surprisingly, one of the first European nations to take to lacrosse were the people of what was then Czechoslovakia. At the time it was introduced, Czechoslovakia was still a Communist country. Germany was the next country to follow the lacrosse trend.
In 1996 the federation held their very first Women’s European Lacrosse Championship in Düsseldorf, Germany
By 1995 the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF) was inaugurated. The countries that founded the original ELF were the Czech Republic, Scotland, England, Sweden, Germany and Wales. Today, there are 33 countries in Europe that have established or are in the process of developing a national lacrosse program. Many of these nations are also members of the World Lacrosse (WL), former Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), which was established in 2008 through the merger of the previously separate men’s and women’s international lacrosse associations. Currently there are 60+ countries with national lacrosse programs worldwide and that number is growing year by year.
In 1995, the year of ELF’s inception, the federation held their very first Men’s European Lacrosse Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. That first year England took home the gold and the Czech home team took home the silver. The second year of ELF’s existence marked the first ever Women’s European Lacrosse Championship in Düsseldorf, Germany. England was the first ever women’s champion, Czech Republic took 4th place. Up through 2003, the Championships were held annually. Since 2004 the men’s and women’s tournament has been held every four years separately. The women have played in 2004 (Prague, CZE), 2008 (Lahti, FIN), 2012 (Amsterdam, NLD), 2015 (Nymburk, CZE), and 2019 (Netanya, ISR).
This year will mark the second ever European Lacrosse Championship for U21 Women
To encourage the growth of lacrosse in younger age groups, the ELF recently established the Championships for the under 20 (U20) age groups, to give junior players a chance to experience a competition of this magnitude prior to moving on to the senior level. The first U20 Women’s European Championship was held in Katowice, Poland in August 2018. The participating countries were the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Israel, Poland, and Wales. Strangely enough, history repeated itself with team England finishing in first and the Czechs placing second once again. Due to the Covid pandemic, the next U20 Championship has been postponed to 2023 so as the players eligibility to U21.
EC U20 2018 standings:
- Czech Republic
This year will mark the second ever European Lacrosse Championship for U21 Women. The Championship will take place in Prague, Czech Republic starting at the beginning of July. The competing nations for this Women’s U21 Championship are set to be the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Poland, Sweden, Scotland, Spain and Wales.
In the world today, the growth of lacrosse globally is undeniable. This past summer the World Lacrosse held the largest World Women’s Lacrosse Championship in history. The tournament had an astounding 30 countries that competed in Towson, USA in the end of June and the beginning of July. As was common in the past, the United States won 11-8 over Canada.
On November 30th, 2018, history was made
With the popularity of lacrosse gaining continuous momentum, it is no surprise that over the past decade or so people have been buzzing about the opportunity for lacrosse to be featured in the Olympic Games. On November 30th, 2018, history was made when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board voted to provisionally recognize the World Lacrosse (WL). This was huge news for the lacrosse world, as it signifies that lacrosse will be included in the 2028 Olympic Games. Lacrosse lovers rejoice! While lacrosse continues to spread across the globe, the European Championships provide an opportunity for the nations of Europe to gain recognition and to encourage growth within the European lacrosse playing field.