Czech success in a game with its roots among North America's Natives

Lacrosse Prague Cup 2004, photo: CTK

Lacrosse is a game traditionally played in North America - originating with Native Americans - but since the late eighties Czechs have really taken to it as well. And not only have they taken to it, these days it seems they are leading they way!

Lacrosse Prague Cup 2004,  photo: CTK
On Tuesday the Czech men's and women's National Intercrosse teams both won the World Cup of Intercrosse, beating out the much favoured Canadians. For those of you who don't know intercrosse, it is a non-contact form of lacrosse played indoors.

But that's not all that is happening this month on the Czech lacrosse scene. Women's and juniors' teams from America, England and the Czech Republic began competing on Wednesday for the Prague Cup 2004, an annual international field lacrosse tournament hosted by the Czech Lacrosse Union.

Unfortunately lacrosse is not an Olympic sport but that won't keep the teams from competing while everyone else is packing for Athens. From 24-31 of July the Czech Republic will be hosting the European Lacrosse Championships in Prague's Slavia stadium, and they stand a good chance of a medal. Heather Bowne caught up with Petr Tahal from the Czech Lacrosse Union to find out more about the history of lacrosse in the Czech Republic, and the Czechs hopes for the coming tournament.

"The lacrosse here was started in the late eighties of our century and the first international appearance of Czech lacrosse was in nineteen ninety-three on Women's Lacrosse World Cup in Scotland in Edinburgh but the first international games were played a few years sooner. I remember in nineteen eighty-nine there was American team returning from World Cup, stopped in Prague and played a small tournament with our team and with the Sweden team."

Who brought lacrosse to the Czech Republic?

Lacrosse Prague Cup 2004,  photo: CTK
"Well I think there's no person who did it because before late eighties there was competition of so-called Czech lacrosse, it's a special game similar to international lacrosse but it's not the same. It was created in the late sixties by people interested in the life of American Native people but they didn't have contact to international federation, to international lacrosse bodies. So they created their special own rules, it's still played here in Prague but I think it's some kind of special game. So teams of Czech lacrosse decided in the late eighties to start playing by international rules, create a league and created for mens and for womens."

So there's actually a Czech form of lacrosse as well.

"Yes, there is a special form of Czech lacrosse. It's one handed. It's played with five players only on the field, five players plus goalie, and the field is shorter."

What are you hopes for the European Championships that will be held in Prague?

"We would like to have some medals both for men's and women's teams but it will be tough competition because the first four-five teams in Europe, both in men's and women's category are very good but we would like to have a medal, and any final appearance would be good success for us."