By Pierre Filion

Lacrosse Canada has recently shared the following information:

  • Executive Director Jane Clapham will be on leave of absence from January 8th to April 24th
  • Administrative assistant Alana White will leave LC in February
  • Finance manager Ashley Welock will also leave LC in February
  • In a foreseeable inbreeding process Terry Rayner has been selected to act as interim Executive Director as of January 24th
  • Wendy Dobbin remains as technical coordinator while Kealan Pilon remains as communication coordinator.
  • Lacrosse Canada is in the process of looking for an administrative assistant to start working in early March which means that the six person staff will be down to three in February…Rough February can we say! Difficult early March.

From my perspective Terry Rayner, the new Executive Director, is in a position to either:

- ‘’break up the barn’’, open doors and let fresh air in, challenge traditional behaviors, bring in new ideas and/or partners and, in respectful terms, demand and expect performance and action from the Board members;

- or to surround and protect himself with walls and ramparts of rules, procedures, procedures, procedures, formulas, formulas, formulas, documents, reports, Sport Canada’s rulings and ‘’suggestions’’, administrative delays and long decision-making processes. He could be Lacrosse Canada’s most prolific paper pushing person in the history of the game.

The sooner the new administrative assistant will be hired the sooner we will see and know what Terry Rayner’s choice will be. If he wishes to turn over the administrative work to the new administration coordinator, and trust him/her to do the job he will free himself from paper-paper-paper and allow himself to be creative and developmentally oriented; if he, on the contrary, wishes to control every aspect of the administration of the Association he will tie himself up and play the humble role of a perfect Interim Executive Director looking forward to receiving orders and carrying them out with enthusiasm, discretion and discipline!

Looking at Lacrosse Canada it seems that the new Interim Executive Director could and should present the Board of Directors (and the members) with three corporate goals to support upcoming actions…. before it’s too late!

  • Increase the number of registered lacrosse players throughout Canada
  • A look at the number of registered players in Canada in the last 20 years shows that the game is not growing; this must be appreciated for what it is in a time when other sports are developing and increasing the number of their participants. ‘’Grow the game, grow the game’’ is a cop out and brings nothing to the game. They are just words like ‘’Keep the faith, keep the faith’’.
  • Lacrosse Canada needs a developmental plan with one goal: increase the number of registered male and female players. The plan should be developed WITH the provinces, should take into consideration the needs of tomorrow’s Canadian youth and should carry the needed financial resources for every province to have the tools to develop the game. Lacrosse Canada simply cannot let the provinces go at this alone and without tools.
  • Lacrosse Canada needs a strategy to benefit from lacrosse’s inclusion within the Canada Games (2025) and the Olympic Games (2028). These two opportunities for growth are huge and at this time there is no plan for action. Today is the day to address the issue or run the risk of seeing opportunities fly by.
  • Lacrosse Canada, along with the provinces, needs to endeavor to include the non-affiliated groups involved in lacrosse and bring them under one umbrella. This will require open mindedness, creative perspectives, fresh approaches towards ‘’different’’ groups with ‘’different’’ interests; but it would be worth it if everyone could come to a win-win solution.
  • Lacrosse Canada, along with the provinces, needs to address the issue of School Sport across the country. Governments only recognize ONE governing body per sport per province; it is in everyone’s interests that all involved in lacrosse come under one governing body in each province. Lacrosse Canada can lead in this effort which will require time, intelligence, political talents and astuteness. So much to gain here for the game. For Lacrosse Canada and for the provinces.
  • Lacrosse Canada needs to develop a recreational component to the game which at present time is only defined as a competitive elite oriented sport excluding most everyone over the age of 40. Is there anything ‘’we’’ can learn from pickleball, from hockey’s beer leagues and soccer’s recreational groups? Is there anything we can learn from others? That might be the basic question the new Executive Director will face!!!
  • Improve the image of the game and its financial credibility

A sport is only significant if it gathers people around it. Lacrosse is not a significant sport as there are so few of us involved in the game. Just look at the official numbers published in 2023 by Lacrosse Canada: 46,959 registered participants across the country.

Lacrosse Canada cannot go on with such limited number of participants and expect to draw political support or financial involvement from sponsors or partners.

At this time Lacrosse Canada’s funds come from the membership, Sport Canada and the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation. Financially the membership has been positioned and has increased its contribution to the limit of what is possible!

It is imperative that Lacrosse Canada maintains positive and diplomatic links with Sport Canada in order to benefit as much as possible from federal grants in the different areas where Sport Canada funds national federations. This will become meaningful as World Lacrosse announces the locations of its upcoming world championships or events; four of the upcoming events will be in Asia between 2024 and 2027. Lacrosse Canada must benefit from its international presence and performances but…at which costs? And who will foot the bill?

The Foundation is a great partner but somehow Lacrosse Canada must stop believing that the Foundation is an endlessly flowing sacred cow committed to having deficits disappear year after year. The Foundation would be the ideal partner for developmental projects, not to have deficits disappear. Lacrosse Canada needs to approach the Foundation with ideas not just supplications for money.

Somehow it is highly disturbing, when one reflects on the image of the game, to see, in Lacrosse Canada’s financial statements, that donations are non-significant; $30 in 2022- $0 in 2023. None of the actual administrators or former players have deemed it important to contribute to the game through Lacrosse Canada. $0 in donations in 2023!!! We can’t go any lower, can we?

The situation is as troubling with sponsorships: revenues of $0 in 2022 and $1,000 in 2023; and the 2023-24 budget proudly mentions that Lacrosse Canada will collect a whopping $1,000 again - but in 2024-25, the amount will be reduced to $0. We are talking about Canada’s National Summer Sport here. Not just a marginal sandlot sport. Unless, maybe, that’s what we are! A non-sponsored marginal sandlot sport!

Now does that tell anyone anything about the image of the game, its significance and the administrators’ will to improve the situation? The answer is……’’YES’’.

  • Improve the Association’s democratic process

Lacrosse Canada is a democratic association; the elected officials (as Board members and administrators) answer to the members; the provincial associations are the members; they can elect to be active members or baby fed passive tourists who relish in the pleasure of meeting once or twice per year in order to feel good about themselves and about ‘’our great game’’.

There is one legitimate question that the members (the provinces) must ask permanently: ‘’What’s in it for us?’’.

Lacrosse Canada appears more and more as a self-centered association committed to preserving its existence and avoiding disappearance. The financial statements clearly indicate that there is nothing for the provinces; $0 in 2022 towards provincial development and, wow, $3,230 in 2023 for provincial development. Sit tight the 2023-24 budget calls for $5,000 in MA development assistance, but calm down the amount will be reduced to $500 in 2024-25. We cannot overspend in this area, can we?

Who works for whom? Do the members work for Lacrosse Canada or does Lacrosse Canada work for its members? It’s a simple question and there must be an answer or the members will decide to act, create satisfying goals and impose their own narrative and national budgets which will indicate that Lacrosse Canada works for the members.

At this time the members pay membership fees, buy goods and services and financially contribute to an association committed to National Teams, national championships and an Office to administer just about everything.

But what’s in it for the members, for the provinces. That will be the Interim Executive Director’s most significant challenge.

But in the end the new Interim Executive Director must endeavor to explain to the members and mostly to himself, what has happened at the last annual meeting when a proposal to change the voting structure was adopted but then declared nil and void because it did not meet with Lacrosse Canada’s own rules of operations.

In his search for the truth the new Interim Executive Director can discover that this was an honest mistake and that everyone concerned ‘’simply’’ did not know their own rules and acted in good faith. If that is the case the new Executive Director will know who his employers really are and how qualified they are to ‘’run the business’’.

If, on the other hand, equipped with his talents for inquiries and investigating searches, he seems to be inclined to see that this was a coup, that the movers of the proposal knew that it was against the rules but had opted to go along with it knowing that no one would notice…. then he will have a clearer perspective as to who his employers really are.

If he decides not to look into the events of the last annual meeting and to carry on with ‘’business as usual’’ we, and the members, will then know who he really is.

Nothing comfortable at this time…but there could be better days ahead. If and only if….