Sport Quarterly: Lacrosse Fest Aims to Break Down Barriers

When Mervat Ismail came to Canada 15 years ago, she knew very little about lacrosse.

Now her three children all play and Ismail herself is enjoying a “try lacrosse” program for women.

The experience has inspired Ismail, who is originally from Egypt, to want to share lacrosse with more people, particularly with communities that are under-represented in the sport.

She’s part of a working group organizing RBC IDEA Lacrosse Fest 2022, set for June 25-26 at the RBC Centre in Dartmouth.

The IDEA theme of inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility runs through the two-day festival. The event will welcome youth ages five to 16 in co-ed “try-it” sessions for Black, Indigenous, newcomer and 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and in an all-girl/non-binary setting.

The fest schedule includes non-competitive games, family fun and the opportunity to learn about the Indigenous cultural origins of lacrosse.

“We want to make it as interactive as we can and as appealing to people as we can,” Ismail says. “We’re going to reach out to different organizations, especially under-represented groups that don’t know about it and don’t get the chance to try it.”

Michelle Clare, regional vice-president at RBC, says the event is an attractive opportunity to broaden exposure to sport.

“At RBC, one of our core values is diversity and inclusion and we proactively look for opportunities to support better access and opportunity for under-represented groups to participate in community programs,” Clare says.

Organizers want to reach anyone who faces barriers to sport. For those facing financial challenges, for example, the fest can introduce them to lacrosse while also letting them know about programs such as KidSport and Jumpstart that are designed to help with cost.

The two-day fest aims to make the sport as welcoming as possible to help achieve diversity.

Donna Goguen, Lacrosse N.S.’s executive director, says this could be the most important event the organization has ever hosted.

“Sport needs to start looking through different lenses and this is our opportunity as a sport to do that — to really get on the road of starting good relationships and giving people from all areas an opportunity to play Canada’s national summer sport.”  

For more information about attending RBC IDEA Lacrosse Fest 2022, please contact lacrosse@sportnovascotia.ca

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