From Canada to Finland, the Journey has Begun

ImageOTTAWA, ON, Tuesday July 10 – The Canadian Lacrosse Association’s (CLA) Under-19 Men’s Field Team Canada has arrived in Turku, Finland.  With less than five days until they take on the United States in their first round-robin game of the 2012 FIL World Lacrosse Championship, the team is settling in and is ready to go.

Before meeting up at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Sunday evening, the CLA welcomed members of the Canadian media, friends, family and the lacrosse community to a reception to officially send the team off to the Worlds.

All 24 players, along with the coaching and management staff, gathered at the head office of adidas Canada where the uniforms, designed and supplied by adidas, were unveiled.

There is something familiar about the uniforms, something classic.  The uniforms were designed by adidas in consultation with the coaching and management staff of the team to give the team a look that will certainly draw attention.

The 2012 U-19 Men’s team has worked hard to honour, respect and learn from those who have come before them.  Wearing the Red and White on the world stage comes with a level pride that the team holds very high.

It is that pride that has led the team to draw on three key inspirations as they focus their sights on gold.

The first inspiration: determination and hard-work.
At the 1978 World Championship, Team Canada brought home the very first gold medal.  To honour our first ever World Championship GOLD medal winning team, the 2012 U19 team is “going retro.” Their team uniforms are close replicas to those that were worn, and the team jersey numbers are the exact same numbers that were worn by the ’78 players.   In addition to that, on their game shorts there is a ’78 inside a maple leaf as a symbol of that connection.

The second inspiration: history and honour.
The Canadian lacrosse community thrives on its members. We are a sport rich in history and culture, honouring where we’ve been as we look forward to where we are going. The builders of our sport have created a foundation that allows us to thrive both on the national and international level. And for that we are thankful. The 2012 U-19 Men’s Field Team Canada will be honouring a few Canadian Lacrosse Builders.  As a “thank you” for the work they’ve done, on the back of each player’s jersey will be the name of a builder.

The third inspiration: courage and strength.
Two weeks ago, the Canadian and World lacrosse community lost one of the greats.  Team Canada goalie, respected Hall of Fame athlete and coach, devoted son, brother, father and husband, Chris Sanderson passed away after a four-year battle against cancer. Chris, a native of Orangeville, Ontario, and a great advocate and supporter of our game, was diagnosed in December of 2008.

A member of Team Canada since 1998, Chris went through several brain surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and other treatments, to represent Canada one last time at the 2010 FIL World Championships.  As he stepped on the field, he did so with pride, honour and a level of courage that is indescribable.

This U19 national team will carry Chris with them into the upcoming Championship and the team will be honouring him in a few ways.  In 2010 Chris lead Team Canada to a very first-ever round-robin win over the USA and as fate would have it, the 2012 U-19 Team Canada will open the world championships against the USA.  When they take to the field, Chris’ memory will be with them.

There is no shortage of inspiration for this team.

With high hopes of bringing home the gold, the team travelled to Washington, DC the week prior to departing to compete in a pre-Worlds competition where they finished with a 4-0 record.  The team is proving to gel well together and bonding has been a focus of the coaches from early on.

Head coach, Taylor Wray is excited about the roster they are bringing to the worlds.   “This team is a very athletic and skilled roster. We have versatile players at each position and who we feel are going to work really well together,” Wray stated. It is no surprise that Canadian fans have a lot to look forward to, according to Wray, “We are going to play our game – high tempo, using our strengths in the transition game to our advantage and to play sound, team-oriented defense at the other end. You can expect to see some very exciting plays; our poles will look to get up field in transition, our midfielders will play at both ends and this will lead to a lot of transition and unsettled opportunities.”

They are ready to create their own piece of Canadian lacrosse history. No other Canadian team in the U-19 division has brought home the gold. With tough competition in the U.S. and Iroquois Nationals it will not be an easy path to the gold but like the 1978 gold medal winning team who took to the field in England, this Team Canada will leave it all on the field.

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