Lacrosse is first and foremost a North American ritual, invented by the Native Americans as a sacred and religious ritual. Originally not only created as a sport, but also to thank and praise the gods. It’s been thought that lacrosse originated in the 11th century, where the game was played with hundreds of players on a 500 to 3000 meters big field. Lacrosse is the only sport in which the Five Nations (also known as Iriquois or Haudenosaunee) are internationally represented.
The French Jesuit missionaries are the first Europeans to discover the game in the 17th century. Amongst them Jean de Brébeuf, writer and ethnologist, who named the sport as lacrosse because of the curved sticks the Native Americans used, which made him think of a bishop’s crozier.
Over the course of time, the interest of the game starts to grow amongst the other Americans. Which results in universal rules of the game in the 19th century. The sport also starts to grow amongst rich youngster, and especially at American and Canadian colleges. At the beginning of the 20th century, (men’s) lacrosse makes it first appearance on the Olympic games.
Over the last 30 years, lacrosse has become one of the most popular sports to play at colleges in the U.S.A. and Canada. The first professional lacrosse leagues started in the 1980s, with the National Lacrosse League, the Major Lacrosse League and later also introducing the United Women’s Lacrosse League.
Lacrosse is often described as the fastest sport on two feet, and is also the fastest growing sport in Europe. In Belgium, the first lacrosse clubs are founded in 2010. We have 10 clubs at the moment in Belgium. First objective in Belgium is to grow the game, with the focus mainly on youth lacrosse – the future of the sport.
The Federation International Lacrosse (FIL) and the International Olympic Committee are working together towards putting lacrosse on the Olympic official program again.