The Yukon Aboriginal Sports Circle hosted a drop-in lacrosse tournament Thursday at the Canada Games Centre.
Twenty-five players registered to play in the tournament, as well as learn about the game.
The tournament was a way to introduce young kids to the sport of lacrosse, something Yukon Aboriginal Sports Circle sports coordinator Michael Tuton said the organization is trying to do.
“The Yukon Aboriginal Sports Circle, we’ve been trying to promote lacrosse in the Yukon,” said Tuton. “We have drop-ins on Thursdays and one of the ways we thought we might get a little bit of attention to the game is hosting a fun drop-in tournament, and just have a fun day of playing lacrosse.”
All the participants zoomed around the field at the CGC trying out their lacrosse skills while coaches Neil McGrath and Jesse Irwin offered feedback during the gameplay.
“We’ve been scratching our heads and trying to figure out a way to make it more popular,” said Tuton. “As soon as the kids come out and play, and you can see how much they like it. The tournament’s over but the kids still want to stay and play.”
The YASC drop-ins on Thursdays are open to any kids wishing to try lacrosse.
“We’ve seen numbers of the drop-ins go up and down,” said Tuton. “So the Aboriginal Sports Circle has all the gear, we just ask the kids to bring their own gloves and helmets.
We provide the sticks, the nets, the balls, and the goalie equipment.
“Also every once and awhile people will come out of the woodwork and say ‘I used to play lacrosse a long time ago and I’d love to be involved’ so maybe we will look at an adult tournament next.”
For now, in order to grow the sport in the Yukon, the main focus is on youth development.
“You got to start a ground zero,” said Tuton. “Right now we are trying to get into the schools and there are a few schools that have an interest in it. As the Aboriginal Sports Circle, we will come and put on a day event and really just introduce the event and hopefully it catches fire from there.”
One of the speed bumps the YASC is encountering in growing lacrosse is that kids are already involved in more established sports throughout the territory.
“The tough thing is is we don’t have the athlete pool like a big city,” said Tuton. “They are all playing something, so you are either interfering with hockey, basketball, soccer so we try and take advantage of these days off when everyone has a break.”
Tuton says in order to gain more kids there needs to be a long-term outlook.
“You have got to start small. We had about 25 turnout for this event, the next time we hope to get 30.”