World lacrosse tournament picks up speed

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:51 PM ET

Tim Hobbs knew word of the 2006 world lacrosse championships was spreading when a phone call came in from Australia to the tournament's Old Oak Properties-donated office space in downtown London.

"It was a lacrosse player (from Down Under) and he was disappointed his team decided it wouldn't be coming to compete this year," said Hobbs, the co-chair of the global tourney slated for July 13-22 in the Forest City. "In addition to the main tournament, we also have the world lacrosse festival (July 17-21), which has divisions from under-19 to Centerion (over-50) and he asked if we knew of a team that could use a spare player. We asked him how old he was."

The response?

"Eighty-three," Hobbs said. "He said he isn't as fast as he used to be, but we should've seen him 20 years ago."

The London tournament, now less than six months away, is moving more swiftly. The Canadian roster has been selected, the international entrants have been confirmed and the festival teams have been booking their spots.

The world championships portion will have 23 teams in four divisions with the Canadians and United States favoured and several other North American players suiting up for their ancestral countries. The top flight includes the Iroquois Nationals, the world's only indigenous nation participating in international sports.

"With the quality of the teams coming, it will be the greatest lacrosse ever played," Hobbs said. "We want to create a Grey Cup atmosphere. We want people to have as much fun away from the field as when they're at the games. We want them to be able to meet the players and talk lacrosse and have a great time."

To that end, organizers added former Toronto Rock and Ottawa Renegades president Brad Watters to the tournament board. The Western grad has already put on a Grey Cup in Ottawa. There are plans to air the first division Canada-Iroquois game on Saturday, July 15, and the world championship final on Saturday, July 22, on national television.

The action will take place primarily at Western's TD Waterhouse Stadium and the North London Fields.

The legacy of the event will be a lacrosse field built on land on Adelaide Street, north of Windermere Road.

During the event, Canadian star Gary Gait's NDP lacrosse company will run clinics in the east part of the city at St. George's Society.

There has been a call put out for volunteer minor officials (timekeepers, scorekeepers, ballboys/girls). Brenda Trineer, who organized volunteers at the 2005 Memorial Cup, will do the same for the lacrosse tournament.

THE EVENT

2006 WORLD LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIPS

When: July 13-22

Tickets: (519) 679-2006

Website: www.2006worldlacrosse.com


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