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CONNECTIONS THAT PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT OF LACROSSE: MEETING WITH COLOMBIA LACROSSE

In our quest to gain knowledge and foster the growth of lacrosse around the world, the AEL has established ties with various individuals and organizations who share a passion for our sport. We’re pleased to share our recent meeting with representatives from Colombia Lacrosse, a valuable experience that allowed us to immerse ourselves in the wealth of ideas and challenges they face in their journey towards the development of lacrosse in their country.

During Oscar Castillo, President of the Colombian Lacrosse Association, stay in Spain we were honored to sit down and explore the ins and outs of his experience. This connection has not only strengthened the ties between our associations but also provided a unique window into the reality and challenges facing lacrosse in Colombia today.


In our conversation, Oscar shared with us the exciting journey that led him to the world of lacrosse, as well as the challenges and successes he has experienced in his role as leader of the Colombian Lacrosse Association. His vision for the future of the sport in Colombia gave us a fascinating perspective on how they are shaping the way forward.


To learn about our conversation with Colombia Lacrosse and discover more about the current state of lacrosse in other parts of the world, we invite you to read the full interview. Our conversation with Oscar is a unique opportunity to discover the realities of defining the growth of the sport globally and, at the same time, inspire each other to reach new heights in the world of lacrosse.

AEL: How did you get involved in lacrosse and what is your personal history with the sport?

Oscar Castillo: I first played lacrosse in 2012 thanks to the invitation of a friend and after that, we created the Colombian Lacrosse Association in 2013 to be able to compete in our first World Cup in Denver, in 2014 and from that moment I was linked to lacrosse as a player to the men's national team.


In 2019 I supported the women's team as assistant coach and physical trainer for the first PALA Qualifying tournament and that same year I started working with the American NGO Lacrosse the Nations as a coach.


After the pandemic, I started with some training courses through World Lacrosse and I have collaborated with them with the creation and/or development of some programs in Latin America, like Uruguay and Brazil.


AEL: What is the current state of Lacrosse in Colombia and what are your long-term goals for its development?

O.C.: Unfortunately after the pandemic, there was a significant loss of registered players but now we are trying to recover the number of participants by increasing local competitions.


In terms of objectives, we have proposed to focus on the development of the sport at the local level by involving more educational institutions in the practice.


AEL: As a player and coach, how do you see the growth potential of Lacrosse in Colombia?

O.C.: I believe that not only in Colombia but all the countries of the world have an enormous potential to grow the sport, it is an attractive sport, fun, and if we manage to direct the resources toward a concrete objective different sectors of the society can benefit.


AEL: What are the main challenges you have faced in the promotion and development of Lacrosse in the country?

O.C.: In the cultural aspect it is difficult to compete against some conventional sports such as soccer, on the other hand, we all know the economic cost generated by the equipment (especially in men's).

I believe that these are the two challenges that we encounter the most when trying to develop the sport.


AEL: What initiatives or programs have you implemented to encourage youth participation in Lacrosse in Colombia?

O.C.: With the alliance made between the ACL and LtN, we have managed to create programs in foundations and schools in two cities.

Basically, the programs are focused on teaching values through lacrosse, and on some occasions, they also provide support with the student’s academics.


AEL: How does Colombian lacrosse compare with other Latin American nations or the world in terms of level of play and development?

O.C.: If we talk about the level of play based on the participation of local players, I believe that Colombian lacrosse is average in comparison with the rest of Latin America. There are other countries like Mexico that due to their experience and conditions are above average.


Now if we talk about the level of play as a national team is a little different because it depends largely on the type of player that is being recruited abroad like players with double nationality. We know that teams like Puerto Rico have a greater facility for their players to go to play lacrosse in the United States, and that puts them well above our level of performance.


Finally, in relation to development, we hope to be leading in a few years in this aspect, since the alliance with LtN has allowed us to face many of the challenges we had to open new programs in Colombia.

AEL: How important is the formation and development of coaches in the growth of Lacrosse in Colombia?

O.C.: For me it is of vital importance since they are responsible for maintaining the sport in different institutions, if you work with trained personnel the participants will increase naturally.

In the same way, if you work with personnel who are not fully qualified for the activity, the number of participants will also be affected, but in a negative way.


AEL: Can you tell us about some outstanding achievements or memorable moments in your career as a player and coach?

O.C.: The opportunity to represent Colombia in the 2014 World Cup I think has been the most memorable moment in my history as a player, it was practically a dream I had since I was a kid.


In terms of performance, I was runner-up in the Central American tournament.

Speaking from the point of view of a coach/developer, my visits to Uruguay and Brazil and seeing the joy that encourages children to practice a new sport is priceless.


AEL: How is Lacrosse financed in Colombia and what are the sources of financial support?

O.C.: Up to the moment all the expenses of the competitions must be assumed by the athletes and this causes a lower level of participation.


AEL: How have you seen the evolution of women's lacrosse participation in Colombia?

O.C.: There was a time when the women's process was led by Adriana Piernagorda and it was an important period of development for women's lacrosse in Colombia. For personal reasons, she could not continue helping and women’s development has been affected.

I hope to be able to find another collaborator like her and give a new impulse to women's lacrosse.


AEL: What are your future goals both personally and in your role with World Lacrosse in Colombia?

O.C.: I hope to be able to advance a little more in the relationships and training with WL and in this way be able to create a better administrative structure for the ACL and then look for a way to replicate that process for the other members around the world.

Another of the goals I have is to form the Colombian Lacrosse Federation by 2028.


AEL: Now that lacrosse has become an Olympic sport and will be part of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, what are your impressions about this inclusion and what do you think will be the impacts on the sport in Colombia and worldwide?

O.C.: I hope that the decision to include lacrosse in the 2028 Olympics will allow emerging countries worldwide to have more support from WL and government institutions in charge of the development of new sports practices in order to achieve the goal that lacrosse is a federated sport in most of the world.

Obviously, this is not only the work of these entities but of each and every one of the members of the different NGBs associated with WL.


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