For the second time in a five-year period, a Native American lacrosse team has withdrawn from the 2015 Federation of International Lacrosse U19 World Championship. Last week, officials from the Haudenosaunee Nation Women’s Lacrosse Board announced that its under-19 squad would not be competing at its world tournament, scheduled to begin July 23 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Team representatives opted to pull out of the global event as officials from the United Kingdom would not allow members to enter Scotland using only their Haudenosaunee passports. “They told us we could get into the country using our Haudenosaunee passports, but we still need an American or Canadian passport to back it up,” Amber Hill, the team’s public relations advisor, told ICTMN. “So that wasn’t going to work.”
Hill said only a few of the 18 players on the Haudenosaunee roster possess a passport from the U.S. or Canada.“Their hearts are really broken right now,” Hill said of the team members.
The club’s withdrawal from the world tournament, however, did not come as a complete shock. This past January, officials from the U.K. notified the team’s leadership that those on the roster would not be able to enter Scotland simply using their own travel documents. The club’s players were notified shortly afterward. “We told them at our February training camp, after we got the letter telling us Scotland would not accept our Haudenosaunee passports,” Hill said.
But team members continued to hope. “We took it as far as we could, hoping there would be some sort of miracle,” Hill said. “It was a day-by-day thing. Everybody was calling around [to see if the issue could get resolved].”
In 2010, the Iroquois Nationals men’s squad withdrew from its world tournament, as team members were not allowed to travel to Manchester, England on their Haudenosaunee passports.But in recent years some other clubs have been allowed to travel abroad using only these passports. The Haudenosaunee women participated at its 2009 world tournament in the Czech Republic. And in 2012, members of the Iroquois Nationals male under-19, traveled to Finland on their Haudenosaunee passports. “In the UK they have tougher rules,” Hill said. “They’re very strict.”
Hill believes the Haudenosaunee squad would have been a medal contender. “I think we could have taken it to all of the top teams,” she said. “I think we definitely could have challenged for the gold.”
Fourteen squads will compete at the world tourney in Edinburgh, which runs until Aug. 1. Despire the Haudenosaunee's absence this year, there will not be a first round bye according to its most recent schedule. According to U19WC2015.co.uk, pool play takes place from July 23-28, with a rest day for all teams on the 27th. The U.S., Canada and Australia are considered the top medal contenders now.
Though the Haudenosaunee will not participate at the world tournament, on July 16, Hill said team officials plan to announce other events the team would take part in. Members of the squad have been itching to step onto the field – against anybody. “They’ve just been scrimmaging against each other for the past year and a half,” Hill said.