EP: Lacrosse

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According to Wikipedia, a national sport is ‘a sport or game that is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation. Some sports are de facto national sports while others are defined by law.’ Ublad spotted two people who – even abroad – still practise their national sports.

Canadian student Steph Migchelsen about her team mates:

'I learn more from them about lacrosse than they do from me'

Regis Correa (30) from Rio de Janeiro is a post-doc at the Hubrecht Institute where he conducts research into gene expression. He has been in the Netherlands since June 2008 and six months ago he picked up the sport which reflects his Brazilian identity: capoeira.

“At my university in Rio de Janeiro I saw people practising capoeira everywhere. I often watched the acrobatic jumps made by the capoeirista in amazement. I would have loved to jump into the human circle which surrounded the dancing fighters and show my abilities. However, I knew I was not quite up to scratch. It had been 10 years since I had last been in training.”

Regis first came to the Netherlands because of his doctoral research. A year later he was back again to work as a post-doc. He wanted to take up sports and went to have a look at the capoeira club Casca Dura. “I was deeply impressed, because contrary to my expectations the standards were very high.”

Since picking up capoeira once again he has been feeling really good, Regis says. “I have a close relationship with my teacher, but I also have a good relationship with the other students. They often ask me what the capoeira songs are about and some of them even want to learn the language and visit Brazil. I had no idea that there was any interest in capoeira outside Brazil.”

“Capoeira makes me feel proud to be Brazilian, and it also helps me feel more at home in the Netherlands. Capoeira is a way to express my Brazilian identity.

In Canada lacrosse is THE national summer sport. In the Netherlands it is virtually unknown. Canadian student Steph Migchelsen (25) found a place in Utrecht which enables her to continue practising her favorite sport: with the Domstad Devils at the Olympos sports fields.

Two nights a week Steph can be found at the Olympos hockey field, with a ball, stick in hand and a small goal on both sides of the field. It may look like hockey but it is, in fact, lacrosse.

The Canadian medical biology student shows her stick. “This is a crosse.” From the end hangs a small net in which she keeps a small, hard ball made of rubber. “We do not hit the ball on the ground like they do with hockey, but rather in the air, with our nets,” Steph explains.

In the Netherlands she often has to explain what lacrosse is. The rules of the game are very similar to those of hockey, but lacrosse is tougher and physically more demanding. “Hockey is more of an elitist sport,” according to Steph. With great enthusiasm she goes on to talk about the pace of the game: “You must think, run and keep an eye on the field, all at the same time. It is both mentally and physically challenging.”

In September 2008 Steph started a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences in Utrecht. “I started attending the training sessions from day one.” In the meantime she considers the team, which mainly consist of Dutch female students, as her family. “And I learn more from them about lacrosse than they do from me.”

Frank Brugman and Mitra Nazar.