Growing the game of lacrosse internationally is something that we are seeing more of. Countries that have never had grass roots lacrosse programs are entering teams into International Competitions and it is because of people like local Victoria lacrosse icon Scott Browning who have dedicated their life to Canada’s National summer sport.
Browning who started playing lacrosse at age 5 in Esquimalt, B.C. has many accolades as a player including being a team member on rosters that won 16 provincial field lacrosse championships, 10 Canadian Field Lacrosse Championships, 21 International Tournament Championships and playing on the Shamrock Senior “A” and Junior “A” Minto Cup Championship team in 1976. He was bestowed MVP and All-Star Awards in 1986, 1995 & 1996 in the Canadian Championships.
Browning’s Coaching experience and honours are equally if not more impressive. He was already a high-level coach who had coached at the minor, provincial and national level winning “Coach of the Year” awards as well as provincial and national Championships when he was approached by Jordan West Pratt (Mission, B.C.) who had played for Browning on Canada’s U-19 Field Lacrosse Team when West Pratt (who with his wife is a teacher in Hong Kong)had heard that the Hong Kong Lacrosse Association was looking for a coach to help them improve their approach to the game. Browning had been looking to help grow the game and his initial thought was to find a program in Europe but was happy to help with the Hong Kong Program and to grow the game in Asia.
Browning has been coaching the Men’s Representative (National) team since 2014 when they were preparing for the 2014 World Field Lacrosse Championships. The players are ages 18 and up and this past summer participated in the 2018 Worlds in Israel. They had a U-19 team in 2016 and are working hard towards having a team at the Field Lacrosse Worlds in 2020.
Hong Kong is building a strong organization and is increasing the awareness of the sport. Most of the men’s team players are involved in coaching at both the Hong Kong University and in school-based programs. Browning says “they are all doing a very good job of growing the sport, its culture and introducing the game to younger athletes”. “The men’s and women’s programs are strong”. “The women will have a team at the World U-19’s in Peterborough, Ontario this August”. The game is taking off in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. Taiwan and South Korea are putting energy into developing the game at the local level.
Over the past 5 years Scott has been able to involve other coaches from Canada and the United States with the program. Rob Marshall from Victoria who is a field lacrosse goalie coach, Lewis Ratcliff as well as Victoria Shamrock and former Team Canada player Jesse King. Jesse is helping coach the field team this summer at an Asia Regional Championship event.
Coaches from the Vancouver area that have been involved are Travis Gillespie, Kyle Robinson, Kevin Crowley and Current Head Coach of the Team B.C. Men’s Program and teacher Ian Radonich.
Radonich who at only 26 years old is Head Coach at the Centennial Secondary Lacrosse Program and a National Coaches Certification Program Instructor is a fabulous addition to Browning’s Team. Radonich was thrilled to have had the opportunity to head abroad and continue to grow “this amazing sport”. “He says that the commitment that Coach Browning has to growing the sport long-term is commendable.
Radonich travelled to Hong Kong last spring to help coach the team in preparation for the World Championships “I was impressed by the skill level in the country says Radonich”. “There is plenty of talent and there are individuals who are eager to learn and become proficient lacrosse players”. “I had the opportunity to work with the program on a developmental night, and it was great to see youth to learn the sport and hone their skills”.
The Jr. A Shamrocks, Coquitlam Adanacs and Maple Ridge’s Minor Association have contributed by sending sets of jerseys over to be used by the program.
Browning has always used box lacrosse as a development tool but is now running a true box lacrosse program. They had an
introductory league in the fall of 2018 and are now preparing a team to compete in the 2019 World Indoor Championships in Langley next September. The current goalies are new to box lacrosse and since the techniques are very different in field and box it was important to have proper coaching which is why Browning asked his friend former goalie and Lacrosse Hall of Famer Rod Banister to help the goalies make the transition. Banister and Browning played against each other in Junior and have coached together at the minor and junior level.
To assist in coaching, Browning recruited another Victorian and former teammate Grant Hamilton. Hamilton is a household name to those who follow lacrosse in Victoria. In the 46 years that Hamilton has been involved in lacrosse he amassed 10 straight National Championships and a bronze medal at the Worlds as a field lacrosse player and as a box player a Minto Cup Championship, 3 Mann Cups, and an NLL Championship when he played for the Calgary Roughnecks. “Grant’s knowledge and experience as a player and a coach (minor and several years with the Team B.C. Program) will be a big part of adapting our skills to the box game” according to Browning.
Grant and Scott played field lacrosse together and Grant said that when he heard about the work that Scott was doing with Team Hong Kong that he conveyed to Scott he would be interested in helping him in the future and was happy when he was invited to be an assistant at the World Indoor Championships.
Hamilton said “that biggest challenge has been the short time they have to get the group ready and the lack of box lacrosse experience in the players”. “In Hong Kong lacrosse is so new and does not have the profile of other sports but Scott has done an incredible job of building the program and we are converting field players to box players”. “The talent is way better than I thought it would be”. Hamilton has found the experience so far to be very rewarding and feeds off their enthusiasm and energy.
Playing on Team Hong Kong box lacrosse team is Victorian and former Claremont Lacrosse Academy graduate Jordan Wong who from 2014- 2018 worked in the Development Office with the Hong Kong Lacrosse Association.
Box lacrosse is brand new in Asia with Taiwan and Korea starting programs. A group in Japan is also starting to play.
Next up for Hong Kong’s team is training and preparation for a trip to Prague where they will be participating in European box games and then the “Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournament”. It is then home to train before heading early to Vancouver prior to the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship.
The field team is preparing for their 6th Annual Hong Kong Open which in April with 12 men’s, 10 women’s and youth teams from around the region. Then it is on to the bi-annual Asia Pacific (ASPAC) Championships in South Korea in June.
For more information on Team Hong Kong follow them on Twitter, their Facebook Page or website.
Hong Kong Lacrosse Association on