Lacrosse Takes Step Toward Olympic Dream
While much of the lacrosse world was trained on men's and women's college championship weekends at the end of last month, there was perhaps a greater development in the broader scope of the game, off the field, on May 25.
The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) was accepted as the 106th member of SportAccord. The decision was formally announced at a meeting of the organization's general assembly in Quebec City, Canada.
What does this mean? Simply, it could be the first step in the path for lacrosse to become an Olympic sport. At the very least, it's a big achievement for international lacrosse.
SportAccord is the umbrella organization for all Olympic, non-Olympic, and international sports federations and was formed to promote communication and cooperation among the various groups. It is headquartered in Switzerland at the Maison du Sport International (MSI - the 'Home of International Sport'), which houses more then 20 international sports organizations, including several departments of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The FIL, which was established in 2008 and of which US Lacrosse is the biggest annual funder, sanctions five world championship lacrosse competitions: men's and women's field, men's and women's U19 field and men's indoor.
An organization needs 40 member nations to apply for SportAccord membership and the FIL surpassed that number in 2011 when it added five associate nations – Thailand, Hungary, Uganda, Israel and Russia. The FIL now has 45 members.
FIL president Stan Cockerton and director of development Tom Hayes were in attendance in Quebec City last month when SportAccord president Hein Verbuggen welcomed the FIL as its newest federation, joining similar organizations representing everything from baseball, basketball and soccer to powerlifting, judo and table tennis.
"The FIL sees its membership with SportAccord as an opportunity for increased cooperation, access to services and promotion as well as being the first step in the pathway toward Olympic recognition," according to a press release.
"This is a very exciting day for FIL," Cockerton said in Quebec City in accepting the membership. "We are honored to become a SportAccord member, and will continue to strive forward in our pursuit of the Olympic dream."
In January, China and Peru became the 44th and 45th FIL member nations. They are making plans to participate in the 2014 FIL Championships in Denver, hosted by US Lacrosse.
Prospective new FIL members include Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Greece, Malaysia, Panama, Philippines and Singapore.
The IOC currently recognizes 67 international sport federations as administering one or more sports at the world level. The FIL said in its June 2012 development report that 2020 is the earliest opportunity for Olympic participation and that 2024 is the "realistic opportunity."