Hong Kong launches first indoor lacrosse league as it pursues world top 20 dream
Hong Kong coach Browning warns team must continue to climb following the introduction of box lacrosse – a faster, more physical iteration
To survive in the supersonic-paced city that is Hong Kong, one must be able to identify the most efficient points of entry and manoeuvre through the smallest of spaces.
Lacrosse is no different, according to the Hong Kong Lacrosse Association, who launched the city’s first indoor – or box – lacrosse league last Thursday in an attempt to penetrate the world’s top 20.
“I told the association that we needed to play box lacrosse in order to help us with stick-skill development, working in confined spaces and learn the subtleties of movement and screening,” said national team coach Scott Browning post-launch at the YMCA King’s Park Centenary Centre.
“The countries that compete at the top level [of field lacrosse] play box. Canada’s success originates from the indoor game, and many countries are adding it to their agenda. If we don’t – and we’re climbing – we’re going to fall.”
Box lacrosse is played between two teams of five and the rules draw from conventional lacrosse, ice hockey and basketball. Browning explained that the goaltender’s padding is much heavier in box, meaning they regularly block with their body rather than the stick.
Unlike field lacrosse, there is no offside and there is a centre or back-over line that the team in possession cannot cross once entering into the opposing half. The attacking team has 30 seconds to shoot the ball before it is turned over, allowing for a much fast-flowing affair.
The league, which plans to start with three teams, will ultimately scout and recruit players for the 2019 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in Canada next September.
Leading Hong Kong lacrosse team members Au Yeung Chun-yu, Chan Hon-kei, Kelvin Mak Ho-chun and Evan Mok-Lamme ventured to San Diego, USA, for the National Lacrosse League’s regional combine to experience the intricacies of the indoor edition. The combine was also an opportunity for the North American league’s top coaches to observe potential draftees and free agents.
Attacker Mok-Lamme, a standout performer at the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships in Israel this summer, returned home with a new perspective on the sport.
“Outdoor is already a fast game, but box is even faster and more physical – it requires a different kind of IQ of the game,” he said. “For people in Hong Kong to experience the indoor game is good as it really challenges players and you develop different skills.
“The players that grow up playing indoor lacrosse in Canada have, by far, better stick skills so being able to play both undoubtedly gives players an advantage.”