Director of Development, Tom Hayes, was pleased that Kenya was accepted as a member of FIL. Hayes welcomed Kenya to the FIL, "The Federation welcomes its second African nation to the membership of lacrosse playing nations. The development of lacrosse in East Africa has been a highlight of the growth of lacrosse worldwide."
The Kenya Lacrosse Association (KLA) joins Uganda Lacrosse as a member of FIL from Africa.
According to KLA representative Jennifer Macleod, “Before June 2014, children attending the many schools throughout the Mukuru slum outside of Nairobi had never seen a lacrosse stick. Since then, the number of lacrosse playing schools has reached five."
Macleod continued, "Now over 200 students are practicing daily and playing lacrosse games every week, and there’s a waiting list for hundreds of more interested students.”
The growth surge began when Ian Macleod, then a High School Junior at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, held a fundraiser for a June 2014 trip to Nairobi to hold introductory lacrosse lessons and kick off the first ever lacrosse league in Kenya.
A video was made to share his Lacrosse Unites visit on YouTube:
Since then, Jon Rathauser, a player on the Israel Lacrosse Association’s national team, joined forces with Kenya Lacrosse to help grow the game. Rathauser reveals how that experience moved him, “My time in Mukuru in early 2015 with Israel Lacrosse’s ‘Sticks for Kids’ program demonstrated to me the principal reason we play sport and compete. I observed the sincere happiness lacrosse brought to the faces of 200 children in the back corner of the most marginalized community I have ever witnessed. I am forever changed by this experience and hope this great program continues to receive support in all its forms.”
Sticks for Kids video on Facebook: Stick for Kids.
Eventually, with the help of AmericaShare and Micato Safaris, Kelvin Mwangi and Joyce Muthoni were hired as coaches and daily lacrosse practice commenced with games held every Friday afternoon. Supplemental instruction has included several training sessions and clinics with Ken Kasule, a member of Team Uganda, who continues to provide guidance and support as an integral part of Kenya Lacrosse.
According to Macleod, “the impact on these student players extends well beyond learning skills and practicing drills.” Margaret, a Class 8 student at Kwa Njenga Primary School, confirmed Macleod’s belief on the impact of lacrosse on the students, “The game has changed me. I used to stay home with my friends who take drugs. Now I play lacrosse, and I left that group.”
This past September, Lacrosse Unites was introduced to Storm Trentham with the goal to grow lacrosse jointly in Kenya. Trentham, a former Welsh Lacrosse international player and U19 Welsh national team coach, joined Sporting Chance International (SCI) in 2007, a charity that helps the needy in Kenya through sport, health and education.
She went on her first trip to Kenya with SCI in 2008 to provide equipment and introduce lacrosse to girls in schools in Mumias, Western Kenya and Nairobi.
Macleod concluded, “FIL membership will help to galvanize support for the Kenya Lacrosse Association and grassroots lacrosse development efforts throughout the nation.”