Our first meeting with Team China was during an official scrimmage, just two days into the World Cup. Both teams were coming off some tough opening game losses as first time competitors in the Women’s World Cup. Both Team China and Team Colombia’s roster is structured very similarly, with little to no support from US based players – leading to interesting language barriers at every turn.
Not only being first time World Cupers and coming from a non-traditional country, we’re in a developing lacrosse region that also has to translate everything that has ever been created for the sport. Not to mention, our pool of personnel resources is limited to those who can speak our language. When you think of this at a fundamental stage, it can be overwhelming.
To relate back to our game against China, both teams are in an English speaking country, with English speaking officials and support staff – all the while, most athletes spoke English as their second or third language, if at all. With both nations in such a developmental stage, we were all so excited to compete with another program that faces many of the same everyday hurdles.
The game itself was so impactful. It was amazing to watch these young athletes scoop their first ground ball or take their first shot on the international stage. This brought me back to my first time training with Colombia in 2014. A group of 12 young girls learning how to hold a stick and their eagerness to learn this great sport. The amount of pure joy in every step on that field is something that we do not see often here in the United States. These moments are what international lacrosse is all about.
At the end of every game, the “home” team gets to offer a thank you and a cordial sendoff. In this moment after playing Team China, I found myself overcome with emotion. It was the rawest and most authentic moment of my entire trip. China’s Team Captain, Ariel Luo (罗勰), went out of her way to communicate in English and spoke about how her team was so excited to play us because of the similarities and they were so grateful for having tough competitors that helped them grow so much. There was an unprecedented genuineness that was tied in with her send off that we had not received from any other team throughout the entire World Cup.
I finally pulled myself together, wiped away all the happy tears, and went straight to her. Telling her how impressed I was with their team and how I can’t wait to see how they progress. It was such a pleasure watching Team China and so many others grow and develop over the 2-week tournament. We are all looking forward to seeing each other in four more years!
Epoch Women Author