Dominican Republic

First Lacrosse Clinic in the Dominican Republic

Written by Bryant Santana-Dominican Republic Host

“Thank you, Green Gaels!”. I want to notify our Green Gaels of the 1st Lacrosse Clinic in the Dominican Republic. Doug Luey, Wayne Colley, and Nigel Roger’s support helped us tremendously initiate lacrosse here for the children of the Dominican Republic. We are very grateful for their support along with Green Gaels Lacrosse!

The mission for the clinic began at 2023 Ales Hrebesky Memorial tournament in Radotin, Czech Republic when I was introduced to Wayne by Neal Powless after we discovered our mutual interest in the Dominican Republic. When Wayne told me he would agree to be present for a clinic the Dominican Republic if Doug was also on board, he would do so, and at that moment he introduced me to Doug. I told Doug of my heritage and Background in the Dominican Republic and my dream to start lacrosse and Doug agreed for plans to begin following the tournament.

We worked virtually together with multiple zoom meetings, emails, and communication during the proceeding months. Fast forward 11 months following the AHM, all of us agreed and traveled to the Dominican Republic.

During our time in the Dominican Republic and at the time of this writing, it is estimated 2000 kids were exposed to lacrosse for the 1st time, after 8 days of boots on the groundwork establishing lacrosse at the grassroots level. Boys and Girls ages 7 - 18 at the grass roots level.

The kids absolutely loved the sport of Lacrosse, the word around town rampantly and is spreading and we received tremendous support.

Isaac Ogando as the Minister of Sports for the town of Bayaguana and his staff, they were able to procure us access to the public school system of the town, to go into the schools, host multiple Lacrosse clinics on the school's campus' and also conduct classroom sessions for the theoretical teachings of the sport so these kids can understand the important historical significance of the Haudenosaunee Nation, which helped them understand the game of lacrosse is much bigger than wins/losses as we all understand here in North America.

I estimate a total of 6 different schools, primary/secondary schools were the total number of official visits we made. Numerous Gaels Lacrosse stickers were passed out to all these schools and given to kids to proudly share Lacrosse back home with their families and what they learned from us.

There are 2 Lacrosse programs at this time, in 2 different towns, 45 min from each other, the 1st town is Bayaguana and the 2nd town is called Hidalgo.

Currently, Hidalgo's Coach Arlenis is a woman who is a teacher in the region and has committed to coaching lacrosse full time and she has a reach of over 200 kids in this town, far away in the countryside. We are pleased to announce. She understands Lacrosse provides an opportunity for these kids who live deep in the countryside have an opportunity to escape the environment they are in, one day can earn USA Visas and College Lacrosse scholarships to earn a college degree in the USA and take their experience and bring it back to their communities.

Wayne, Nigel and Doug's support were essential for our boots on the ground. Alone I personally would not have been able to make the impact we made in these children's lives. All the gear collected and donated by the Green Gaels Lacrosse family has been warmly received and is essential to keep the game growing from one town to the next.

We had the privilege of having world renowned Filmmaker/Producer Albert Javier (Instagram @therealworldofxavier ) joined us for the mission. His purpose was to solely record footage and edit our work to produce a documentary. The documentary once finalized will be shared with the Gaels Lacrosse Community. Ya'll will be notified once created on how to watch the documentary which contains footage, interviews, and visual aid for our work of growing lacrosse in the Dominican Republic.

We were hosted in very nice Airbnb themed campgrounds which provided private rooms, showers, and beds for the coaching staff and future clinics at the rate of $50 USD a night.

I know for a fact Wayne, Nigel and Doug loved our host cook's food and meals prepared of traditional Dominican foods which we all warmly received and ate to give us the strength and energy to focus on coaching.

Here are a few more highlights of our mission.

    Monsignor Lorenzo Vargas ( widely considered 1 of 2 men who are the most respected leaders of the town along with Isaac Ogando ) met with myself and Richard Espinal, another Dominican Heritage Lacrosse player like myself who flew down from Chicago at the request of Isaac to meet with him at his office at the local Catholic school, we spoke of the origins of the game and how the word "lacrosse" came to be from the French Jesuit Priest from the early days of colonization, and he was very pleased to learn of this history, and he saw 1st hand how much the kids at his school, love playing lacrosse.

    The process has begun for the creation of the Lacrosse Federation in the Dominican Republic and paperwork is in progress.

    On our 1st day of the clinic, we had about 60 - 70 kids playing lacrosse in the sports complex of the town. The President of the Dominican Republic Ministry of Sports who oversees all of the sports of the country, came for a visit and were able to meet our Gaels Coaching staff, his name is President of the Ministry of Sports for the Dominican Republic Garibaldy Bautista and he absolutely loved seeing the kids play lacrosse. We took pictures and all when he tried passing the ball and trying the sport out.

    On Friday March 22, 2024, Isaac informed us the day prior, the U17 Cuban Baseball National team visited on their tour of playing different U17 Dominican Baseball team for a friendly scrimmage. The head coach for the Cuban U17 Baseball team is also the Vice Minister of Sports for the entire country of Cuba. Upon arrival, it was the Cuban Baseball coaches who immediately began tossing a ball around while inclement weather prevented the game from being played, we were fortunate enough to be present and expose 30 Cuban Baseball players and their coaching staff of the game of lacrosse. We presented the coaches and players with Lacrosse merchandise and other various Lacrosse apparel to take back to Cuba with them along with a few Lacrosse balls. At this time, this is the 1st recorded introduction of Lacrosse to the country of Cuba which they have all keen interest in the game and want to also establish lacrosse in their country in the future. It was an honor to grow the game of Lacrosse without borders.


    The Dominican kids naturally picked up Lacrosse very quickly and progressed rapidly in a short period of time we were present. Wayne, Doug and Nigel along with us saw 1st hand how the mechanics of baseball translated extremely well into Lacrosse, with the kids easily launching the ball in a baseball field from the home plate to the outfield through their natural athleticism, we were all amazed at the raw talent present.

    The children we met all had multiple FAQ for us which included:

o    When will we come back?

o    Is Lacrosse going to be permanent or temporary?

o    Will we leave all the gear for them? (We left everything we brought on the island)

o    Who will train them next?

    We spoke to the children of the opportunity presented to become the best they can be so one day they will get a call for a US College Lacrosse Scholarship and American Visa by playing Lacrosse. The kids all understood this opportunity with passionate enthusiasm!

All in all, the mission for introducing lacrosse and the kids having fun was a success! There is much more groundwork ahead of us. At this time, I am in the process of establishing an official 5013C US Based Non-Profit entity named " Alianza Lacrosse Dominicana " for the sole purpose of fundraising and growing lacrosse at the grassroots level from town to town, adjacently per our Gaels Lacrosse Recommendation.

Our Dominican leaders warmly received our Gaels volunteers and will certainly welcome future volunteers to establish a strong infrastructure to ensure the sport of Lacrosse can organically grow in the Dominican Republic.

The mission was important to me because as a Lacrosse player who started playing lacrosse at 15 years old in 2009, I went on for many years playing until finally in 2021 I met another Dominican Lacrosse player at a box lacrosse tournament in New Jersey. It meant the world to me to finally meet another Dominican Heritage Lacrosse player for the 1st time. My dream is to have more Dominican Lacrosse players out there playing lacrosse. It is with tremendous gratitude I extend to the Green Gaels for all your efforts and although I have not had the privilege of meeting you all personally, through your contributions and support from abroad, we made a dream now a reality. Green Gaels Lacrosse and Republica Dominicana Lacrosse are FAMILY!