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PEI box lacrosse teams are excited about the sport’s return to the Canada Games

For the first time since 1985, box lacrosse will be part of the Canada Games, and for the first time ever, PEI will field a women’s team.

Box lacrosse for women and men returns to the Canada Games 2022 as part of a pilot in response to the Sports Sector’s appeals by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

According to the Canada Summer Games 2022 website, lacrosse has been played by indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

Bringing the sport back into the games is seen as a major milestone.

Player Clare Bowie said it was exciting to be a part of box lacrosse’s return to the Canada Games and to be a member of PEI’s first women’s team.

“We’re setting the standard for the women to follow us… I’m really glad I got to be a part of that.”

Many of the players on the women’s box lacrosse team are new to the sport and want to gain experience at the Canada Games. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Box lacrosse is similar to the field version, but is played indoors off-season, usually in ice hockey rinks.

It’s a fast and aggressive game with five players on each side.

“Learn to love the sport”

Women’s Box Lacrosse head coach Samantha Branstrom said that she is of M├ętis descent and grew up playing the game, often on teams composed of men and women.

Branstrom said she jumped at the chance to help coach PEI’s first women’s team.

“Everyone here is learning to love the sport and has a good community spirit about the game,” Branstrom said.

Heather Simpson, left, and Samantha Branstrom, the women’s box lacrosse coaches, say they wear Indigenous lanyards at practices and games. (Laura Meader/CBC)

“So many kids play soccer and so many kids play hockey, and lacrosse is the perfect casual sport,” she said.

There are no other women’s teams on PEI to play against, but the women have competed against a few other Maritime teams.

Assistant Captain Brooklyn Riley said many of them are very new to the game so PEI don’t expect many wins.

“I assume we have to work really hard because we’re a smaller province and we had fewer options, but I think it’s going to be a super good experience,” Riley said.

It’s an honor for me to be a part of it

The men’s team from PEI is also happy about the comeback of box lacrosse.

Head coach Mitch Sanderson said a lot more people have gotten into the sport in recent years.

Sanderson began playing field lacrosse in New Brunswick at the age of 10 and says he loves the sport. He said the PEI Men’s Box lacrosse team is a special group.

“We’re going to be a competitive team,” said Sanderson.

He said PEI has had men’s teams in the past and it’s a shame it’s taken so long to bring the sport back to the Canada Games.

“Personally, I’m very honored to be a part of this return, I think it’s going to be a real treat for people to see on this stage,” Sanderson said.

He said the one-year delay due to the pandemic has helped both teams pursue the sport for a longer period of time.

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