Radotin-The Little Town That Did

Aleš HřebeskýMemorial Box Lacrosse Tournament

Aleš Hřebeský

For the past 28 years (except for the Covid years 2020 and 2021), during the last week of April, the Lacrosse Club Custodes Sokol Radotin (LCC) hosts the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial box lacrosse tournament. Aleš Hřebeský was born on July 1, 1972, and was among the most gifted LCC players. In addition, Aleš was an avid ice hockey player, gymnast and cycle-ball player. Sadly, at age 21, Aleš died from injuries caused by a drunk driver who hit Aleš while he was waiting at a bus stop.  The tournament named after Aleš is affectionately referred to at the AHM.

Lacrosse insiders world-wide regard the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial as the most prestigious box lacrosse event in Europe with 24 teams from 16 different countries currently participating.

Initially, the tournament marked the opening of the Czech lacrosse season and was played at the end of March.

There have been several milestones in the growth of the tournament.  In 2007, a team from Canada (Green Gaels from Ontario), became the first Canadian team to participate. The Gaels went unbeaten and won the tournament in their first year of participation.

Also in 2007, the tournament served as preparation for the Czech National team as they were about to compete in the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships to be held in May in Halifax, Canada.  The Czech team placed 7th out of 8 teams.

The 2008 AHM saw a record number of 16 teams participate. For the first time, all the games were broadcasted live.

In 2011, the AHM served as preparation for the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship held in Prague, one month later. The Czech team placed 4th out of 8 teams. 

In 2013 (the 20th Annual AHM tournament) was the first time a team from British Columbia participated.  Players from France and Israel played on a combined team.  Teams from Poland and Scotland were first time participants. 

The 21st AHM tournament held in 2014, included teams from 14 different nations.  For the very first time a native Iroquois team – the Kahnawake Rapids participated. The team included several Iroquois national team players. The Kahnawake team went undefeated and won the tournament.

The year 2015 saw a team from Saskatchewan Canada participate.  Sweden and Turkey represented new countries to the now 21 team tournament.

In 2016 – the 23rd edition of the AHM included first time Switzerland in the tournament.  The championship game was a thriller as Team Alberta from Canada defeated the home Custodes in a sudden win overtime game.

With 15 countries represented including five teams from North America, the 2017 AHM was one of the most diverse tournaments to that point of existence.

In 2018, a new record was established with 24 teams in the 25th AHM. Goldstar Tel Aviv, a team comprised of mostly players from the Israel national team, won their first championship title as they defeated Nova Scotia 6-3 in the finals.

Unfortunately, the 2020 and 2021 AHM tournaments were cancelled due to the covid-19 epidemic and related restrictions.

The year 2022 saw a “restart” of the AHM.  Many of the usual Canadian teams did not participate. However, Belgium and the Netherlands made their debut in the tournament.  LC Custodes won their record tenth championship.

The 2023 tournament saw a return of 24 teams including two long time participants in the Ontario based Green Gaels and Nova Scotia Privateers back. In addition, an Iroquois team from Six Nations participated for the first time.  The championship game was exceptionally exciting as the Nova Scotia Privateers defeated LCC Custodes by a single goal, winning 11-10.

The Privateers have been participating in the AHM tournament since 2008.  After 13 years - this was the first time the team had won the championship. General Manager and Head Coach Rod Humphreys commented, “ "It feels great because it's the culmination of a lot of work. We are extraordinarily proud of what we've accomplished here and being from Nova Scotia, it's all that much more special."

For the Green Gaels who were the first Canadian team to win the AHM tournament in 2007, General Manager and Head Coach Doug Luey noted, "This past year was our 8th trip to the tournament. What stands out most is that every time we go back we can't imagine what they could do to make it better than the previous year. Yet they exceed expectations year after year. It is a tournament that exudes friendship and comradery. This year we had two players on the team lose their cell phones, while taking public transportation. One was left behind on a bench at the tram station and the driver got off the tram and brought it to the main station. The other was left on a train and was turned in. Both phones were returned to the owner within 24 hours”.


Think Lacrosse had the opportunity to speak with AHM tournament organizer Ondřej Mika.  He kindly responded to our questions.

Question 1

This is the 28th year the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial tournament has been held – Could you have ever imagined the tournament would continue for such a long period?

Well, if somebody had told me 20 years ago what the AHM would look like now I would have thought he was crazy and exaggerating. But the step-by-step growth was probably natural. It is a long period. Aleš would have been a retired player nowadays. But we just keep going, not really taking care of a number of years, and we are proud and happy that the tournament has a good reputation.

Question 2

How many teams applied to be part of the 2023 Aleš Hřebeský Memorial tournament? How many were accepted?

We have a limit of 24 teams. With one arena and one extra playing day in a secondary arena, we cannot accommodate more. We decided that we do not want to take more teams because the charm of the event is in its location and the fact all people meet each other in one place, the Sokol Radotín venue. Twenty teams from 2022 had guaranteed invitations, we were selecting from about twelve applications for the remaining four slots. Our aim is to have both the world's top lacrosse players and teams from various countries in order to spread the game. We are trying to balance it.

Question 3

How many different countries are represented in the 2023 AH Memorial tournament?

We have teams representing 16 nations, but some squads are really international and altogether there are players from 24 countries, from Argentina to New Zealand to mention the farthest ones. The list includes: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Czechia, Haudenosaunee, Hongkong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Nederlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America

Question 4

Can you speak about the improvement of the quality of the level of competition and how it has changed over the years?

The level of the game was steadily growing thanks to North American players who pull it up. I am happy that European teams are growing too. This was interrupted by covid break. Last year's restart was probably a step back in quality, but I think this year it will be better than ever.

Question 5

The venue in Radotín is both unique and special.   In the year 2001, the facility was refurbished and it marked the first time the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial tournament included teams from overseas.  Did this change the nature of the tournament?  If yes, how so?

The 2001 annual was an absolute breakthrough. Not only because of the refurbished arena but with having teams from the USA, Germany, and Japan. And I will never forget the euphoria when we won the final against the Rebels. We were able to manage an international tournament and got self-confidence at this point. Foreign teams had a good time here, the word spread, and the next year Rebels brought better players, new teams joined and thanks to such a snowball effect the tournament grew to the current scale. The first Canadian team appearance, Green Gaels in 2007, was another milestone, and having an entirely native team in Radotín, Kahnawake Rapids in 2014, was another great achievement. Teams take their participation very seriously, sportively it is very prestigious, but they are still having fun outside of the arena.


Overview of Radotin Lacrosse Box


Question 6

No team has won the AH Memorial tournament more than theLC Custodes Radotín team (10-time champions).  How much of a sense of pride does this serve and how important is this to the success of the tournament?

The AHM is the most important event of the year for us. It is prestigious and everybody wants to play his best. Custodes are the home team; they are playing the tournament honoring their teammate in front of full stands of fans. It is unique and the energy in the arena is unbelievable. And of course, we are proud when we succeed.

Question 7

Knowledgeable lacrosse insiders claim – “The Aleš Hřebeský Memorial tournament is largely responsible for the tremendous development and expansion of box lacrosse overseas”.  How do you react to this statement?

Really? I suppose you mean Europe by "overseas" from your side of the sea. Well, it sounds like too strong of a statement for me. I am proud of our reputation, we intentionally invite teams from many countries to promote the game, but I would not overestimate the tournament role. We are really happy about the growth of box lacrosse especially in Europe. Czechia used to be a box lacrosse island in Europe and the spread of the game is awesome, although the communities are still small and fragile. We are happy to help new teams in other countries and if the AHM motivates more players to play and develop box lacrosse in their country it is awesome. I know how much work it is to run a club and big kudos to all dedicated players, coaches, and organizers who are spreading the game.


Radotin Clubhouse in the Background

(Centre for fine food and social gathering)

Five trivia questions for you, Ondřej.


Can you estimate the number of people who attend the Aleš Hřebeský  during the duration of the tournament each year?

500 players and team members, 4000 paying spectators in the course of four days, and a big flock of children who attend free of charge.

Can you estimate of the number of kegs or pints of beer sold during the AH Memorial tournament?
According to our restaurant: almost a hundred kegs.

How about the number of  schnitzels consumed ?
A few hundreds of schnitzels.

The number of chicken penne meals eaten?
A similar number of penne portions, and hundreds of grilled sausages.

Do you have any sense of the economic benefit hosting the AHM tournament brings to the community of Radotín and/or the city of Prague?

A rough estimation of the tournament turnover and visitors' spending including accommodation and meals is over 4 mil. CZK (CAD $250,000). Bringing several hundreds of people certainly is a benefit to local services in Radotín. The impact on Prague will not be probably so remarkable considering its huge tourism industry but still. Another benefit is the promotion that Radotín and Prague get abroad in the lacrosse community.

(Article written by Rad Joseph – writer/researcher for Think Lacrosse)

Aleš Hřebeský Memorial Tournament Champions

1st annual, 1994 – LCC Radotín
2nd annual, 1995 – LCC Radotín
3rd annual, 1996 – TJ Malešice
4th annual, 1997 – LCC Radotín
5th annual, 1998 – LCC Radotín
6th annual, 1999 – LCC Radotín
7th annual, 2000 – LCC Radotín
8th annual, 2001 – LCC Radotín
9th annual, 2002 – Rebels (USA)
10th annual, 2003 – Rebels (USA)
11th annual, 2004 – Rebels (USA)
12th annual, 2005 – LC Jižní Město
13th annual, 2006 – LC Jižní Město
14th annual, 2007 – Green Gaels (CAN)
15th annual, 2008 – Megamen Boston (USA)
16th annual, 2009 – Megamen Boston (USA)
17th annual, 2010 – Green Gaels (CAN)
18th annual, 2011 – Love You to Death (CAN)
19th annual, 2012 – Megamen Boston (USA)
20th annual, 2013 – LC Custodes Radotín (CZE)
21st annual, 2014 – Kahnawake Rapids (IRO)
22nd annual, 2015 – Pioneers (CAN)
23rd annual, 2016 – Team Alberta (CAN)
24th annual, 2017 – LCC Radotín (CZE)
25th annual, 2018 – Tel Aviv Lacrosse (ISR)
26th annual, 2019 – Glasgow Clydesiders (SCO)
2020 – tournament cancelled due to covid-19 epidemic
2021 – tournament cancelled due to covid-19 epidemic
27th annual, 2022 – LCC Radotín (CZE)
28th annual, 2023 – Nova Scotia Privateers (CAN)