Boxla minnows thinking big

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Four years from now, the Czech Republic may give box lacrosse the platform it needs to become a true international sport.

Lacrosse officials from the Czech Republic, the lone full-fledged European team at the inaugural six-team world indoor championship this week in southern Ontario, have expressed interest in hosting the next edition of this tournament in 2007.

Though the Czechs (0-3) remain a lacrosse minnow -- as evidenced by last night\'s 25-1 loss to Canada (3-0) at the Hershey Centre -- their development in the sport is a success story.

\"I think (the Czech Republic hosting the tournament) would be best for the growth of lacrosse around the world,\" Czech assistant coach Pavel Semerak said. \"A lot of countries that play hockey like Slovakia and Germany would come to a (lacrosse) tournament in the Czech Republic.\"

Some think a world tournament in the Czech Republic would boost participation to 12 teams.

Introduced to the Czechs in 1986 by then-Canadian Lacrosse Association executive Pierre Filion, who brought equipment overseas, lacrosse has grown by leaps and bounds in the Czech Republic in the past decade. Ten teams compete in the country\'s top league and about 200 junior players (15 and under) are registered. The country also hosts an annual international club tournament, which attracts more than 2,000 fans for some games.

\"We love the sport,\" said Czech general manager Milan Topol, whose team has about 10 sponsors helping fund the trip here. \"It\'s a big celebration for us to be here. It\'s like playing against Mario Lemieux in hockey.\"

Canadian GM Johnny Mouradian has visited the Czech Republic twice in the past year to offer instruction.

\"We\'ve had conversations with hockey officials there telling them when the ice comes out in Canada, we play lacrosse,\" he said. \"In the Czech, they play ball hockey (in the summer). If they mirror Canada, we think others might as well.\"

SCOTTISH TRIUMPH: It wasn\'t a huge upset when Scotland (2-1), which has 13 Canadians with a Scottish-born parent on its roster, beat the short-handed United States 15-12 yesterday. Many of the top Americans are not here because of professional field lacrosse commitments, but U.S. GM Steve Govett still was upset with the result.

\"It was gross ... but I don\'t know if it\'s that shocking because that\'s a team full of Canadians against a team full of guys not in the NLL,\" said Govett, whose team is 2-1.

Scotland goalie John Marr, 64, will make his first start of the tournament today (4 p.m.) against Canada.


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