As I had mentioned in previous editorials, my job as a writer, and interviewer has afforded me opportunities I never thought possible. I have been able to meet, interview, and in some cases forge good friendships with some of the heroes I grew up watching, and admiring. When I was sitting in a seat in Buffalo in the 90’s, or at Maple Leaf Gardens at the beginning of the millennium, I would never have dreamed that one day I too would play a part in the development of this great sport.
One of the other really great things that I have been part of, is helping to promote some of the grass roots programs going on in various parts of the world. I have been lucky enough to have a number of up and coming players from Africa friend me, and message me on a regular basis. The Uganda lacrosse program has put together some exceptional players over the last number of years, with limited budget, equipment, and areas to play. These people (boys & girls) have not only learned the game, but are playing it at a very high level now.
In November of 2020, the World Lacrosse Board of Directors voted unanimously to elevate the ULA to full membership, having held associate status since 2011.
It means a ULA delegate will be able to vote at the World Lacrosse General Assembly and national teams are now eligible to win medals at World Lacrosse tournaments.
Among the ULA schemes picked out for praise was training it’s entire under-19 team to coach girls’ and boys’ sides.
“World Lacrosse is thrilled to welcome the Uganda Lacrosse Association as the first full member from the African continent,” World Lacrosse Board member and development director Bob DeMarco said. “Since joining World Lacrosse in 2011, they have made tremendous strides in developing the sport for boys and girls, coaches and grassroots level officiating, all of which are critical to sustained success of the sport in any country.”
The Men’s Team:
The Uganda national team made their international debut in 2014 by featuring in the World Lacrosse Championship for the first time at the 2014 edition held in Denver, United States where they were mentored by American coach Tanner Scales. They were also the first African team to feature in the tournament. Their game against South Korea was their first win in the tournament, winning over their Asian opponents, 10-9. They finished 34th among 38th competitors.
They entered the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship in Israel for their second appearance in the international lacrosse competition. They placed 40th in this tournament. They are led by Israeli coach, Peter Ginnegar.
Johnny Davis Jr., son of legendary lacrosse player Johnny Davis Sr., has worked tirelessly on getting people to donate their old, used, and unwanted lacrosse anything (sticks, balls, equipment, anything, and everything), and has sent a container out to the awaiting players in Africa.
The Proud Culture:
The people of Uganda are a proud, and supportive people. When the Uganda Sports Museum was built, it had a Lacrosse Hall of Fame wing attached to it as well. This gave the Ugandan people an experience, showing all the achievements of the Country to this point, allowing people to be proud, and dare to dream.
Men like Riky Akna, as well as coach Dave Libby (originally from Massachusetts) are working with the youth, teaching the nuances of the Creator’s game, and how to be top notch field players. More importantly, this gives the Ugandan youth a sense of belonging, a place to safely go also staying out of trouble. The team aspect is helping the youth with maturity, and confidence, as well as their self esteem.
As World Lacrosse prepares to re-enter the Olympics in 2028, one of their proud success stories will be the Ugandan team, showing the world that HEART and HARD WORK, will always trump talent alone.
This program is still in need of funding to really push them to the next level. By donating to their program, you will not be sorry. The men, and women, boys, and girls will make sure the money goes to fund the program, giving them stability for years to come.
Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.