Guest Blog: The Lacrosse World Cup Experience, with Team England’s Torz Anderson
In 2013, at 19 years old, I was devastated to be told I hadn’t made the World Cup squad after 4 years of training; but inspired by the idea of a home World Cup in 2017, I vowed to myself I would do everything within my power to make sure I wasn’t in this position again and that I would be selected to be part of a team able to compete for a medal at the highest level.
Over the next 4 years, motivation throughout the squad was at an all time high and competition was fierce. The years quickly passed and so did training camps, Home Nations and European Championships, USA tours and Australia tours. I took a lot of responsibility over my own preparation, focussing on strength and conditioning – training up to 10 times a week individually; nutrition – preparing most meals to fuel my body efficiently and psychology – to be mentally ready for the challenges of competing against the best in the world. Being so disciplined whilst working a 9-5 job* was extremely difficult at times and there were moments when I thought I just couldn’t do it anymore, but I stuck it out for myself and for my team and it was all so worth it…
*Lacrosse receives very minimal government funding meaning athletes have to work full time around training commitments and fund themselves to train, go on tours, buy England kit and pay for tournament entry.
After 4 years of training and literal blood, sweat and tears, our World Cup journey was about to begin. As a team we had left no stone unturned. According to the older members of our squad, we were the best-prepared England squad there had ever been. As we walked out of the tunnel on to the pitch, the roar of the 2000 strong Home Crowd was deafening and a surge of adrenaline rushed through us all. Standing with your arms around your teammates belting out the national anthem is always a special moment, but having 2000 people sing it back to you is a memory I will never forget. For the first time ever I felt like a true athlete (and a popstar!) and I was ready to do my country proud.
Over the next 10 days we played 8 matches, 5 pool games and 3 knock out/ medal games. It was an emotionally draining time with the adrenaline of an evening game staying with you until the early hours, feeling dramatic highs after emphatic wins but also the shocking reality after losing games we shouldn’t have. It really was the clichéd rollercoaster of emotions and with this and the physical exhaustion, the time just flew by.
After losing the semi-final against World Champions, USA, we were placed in the Bronze medal match against fierce rivals, Australia, on a typical English summer’s day with torrential rain pouring down! We were going into this game on the back foot after losing to Australia 13-4 in the group stages, so we knew we had to produce something special to get in the mix and compete for that bronze. After going 6-1 down and pulling it back to 6-5 before Australia pulled away again to 9-5, we were running out of time, but we stuck to the game plan, pulling it back to 9-9 with less than 30 seconds left on the clock.
Overtime periods in lacrosse are 3 minutes long and after 2 periods with no score, we went to golden goal… with 5 seconds left on the clock in the 2nd period of golden goal, my teammate Megan scored an absolutely incredible goal to clinch victory for England! As the rain continued to pour, the crowd went wild and so did we, running across the pitch to each other to celebrate!
It was a historic moment for England as this was the first medal we had won in 12 years and it was the first time ever the Australians hadn’t medalled at all. The best part was, it was with a group of inspiring people who I love, in front of the most amazing home crowd – and on home soil! I wish I could have bottled up the atmosphere and continued the indescribable feeling of relief, excitement and sheer disbelief, forever; it was a moment I’ll never forget.
Although the 4 year build up was harder than I ever imagined, and the World Cup itself was taxing in ways I never even considered, I just can’t wait to get back to my favourite squad and begin the build up for 2021 and do it all again. Sport is an incredible hobby where winning and losing with a team not only draws you closer together on pitch, but also close enough to make life long friends and life long memories. And even though it can be brutal at times, when you aren’t selected or if you get injured for example, it drives you on and gives you a focus.
I feel extremely lucky to be involved with a sport which is driven so much through individuals investing in the game (players, coaches, volunteers) to drive participation and to improve as a country and I am so grateful to have been able to experience a once in a lifetime moment – winning a World Cup medal on home soil.
You can view the winning goal here: https://www.facebook.com/BBCSport/videos/1511157585637936/