World Lacrosse Championship - ti communication trainer Philip Werner on his intercultural experiences as a participant of this sporting event

World Lacrosse Championship - ti communication trainer Philip Werner on his intercultural experiences as a participant of this sporting event

In July of this year, one of the largest ball sport tournaments took place in Denver (USA): the men’s world lacrosse championships.

You missed the big event? You’ve never even heard of lacrosse? Well, you aren’t alone. In Germany and all of Europe, lacrosse has not yet hit the mainstream. But you can seize the opportunity and follow me into the heart of the lacrosse world and discover the intercultural challenges surrounding such a trip.

What is lacrosse and where does it come from?
Lacrosse is a team sport that is played with a stick equipped with a mesh net and a tennis ball-sized hard rubber ball. Two teams of ten field players each try to score more goals than the opponent. Body contact, including with the stick, is permitted. This ball sport was invented by the Native Americans on the east coast of the USA. Via labyrinthine paths, missionaries and English boarding schools, the sport, which originated as a Native American healing ritual, found its way back to the elite east-coast colleges of the USA.

Today, lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in the USA, and even internationally, new national associations are cropping up at an amazing speed. Just 30 years ago, only four teams took part in the world championships. Meanwhile, the event has become a great festival of nations, with participants from almost all regions of the world. This year, Uganda was the first African team to compete.

On the field as an intercultural trainer
As an intercultural trainer, during my participation as an active player in the biggest world lacrosse championships to date, I had, of course, my trainer’s glasses on and was able to experience quite a bit. As early as the opening ceremony, cultural differences with regard to clothing and behaviour quickly became evident. The Asian teams seemed to shy away from the sun, and we Germans remained in the shade on the simple grounds of professional preparation for the tournament, while the team from Uganda, armed with drums, danced in the sun for an extended period and completely savoured the event. The Norwegian team showed up in sweaters of the same name, the Scots came in kilts, the Austrians – much to the joy of the American spectators – all wore lederhosen and the Ugandan players trumped everyone with their colourful tribal robes. What was behind the multifaceted fashion show? Self-inflicted stereotyping, perhaps, yet without a negative aftertaste. Generally, the spirit of the games was always positive, and everyone applauded and cheered the other nations.

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