Australia Should be Watching Ballarat….and Helping

Tasi in action
Tasi in action  
TV stars
TV stars  

Last week I had the privilege of being invited to participate in the largest participant lacrosse event ever staged in Victoria’s regional city of Ballarat since a club was first formed there in 1883.

Under the guidance of PE Coordinator, David Richardson, the St Thomas More Primary School had declared its last day for the year a “Lacrosse Day”.  It was a brilliantly organized event with the school’s 120 Grade 5-6 students competing in a round-robin tournament with ten, mixed-gender teams.  The energy, enthusiasm and excitement were compelling as the players threw themselves into their new-found sport.  Skills and athletic talent were evident in abundance despite most of the players having no previous experience of lacrosse apart from a few school clinics.

WIN television and the Ballarat Courier newspaper were there to give public exposure to the event.

Lacrosse Victoria’s Operations Manager, Sean Aaron came from Melbourne to add coaching and refereeing expertise along with Cassidy Richards and Miles Cowton, both current State Junior Team representatives and role models from the Camberwell Lacrosse Club.

How was this possible?

The initiator was Tasi Stampoultzis, a Ballarat resident and former Malvern State League and Victorian State Team representative.  Despite having his own manufacturing business to manage, Tasi has conducted hundreds of hours of clinics in local Primary and Secondary schools during the past two years, using his own funds to purchase lacrosse equipment.  This year, fourteen separate Ballarat schools were engaged in the program using Tasi’s own “Gridlax” version of modified lacrosse – conventional mesh sticks, controlled stick checking and fields marked with scoring zones to aid player learning and strategy.

A small but growing group of helpers have gathered around Tasi, drawn from parents and past lacrosse players.  The Goldfields & District Lacrosse League has been formed along with the Ballarat Royals Lacrosse Club which is experiencing a growing attendance of keen junior players at its weekly coaching/competition sessions.  Both bodies are now affiliated as Regional Members with Lacrosse Victoria.  The St Thomas More school has declared its intention to purchase equipment, form a lacrosse club and build a lacrosse program and annual tournament into its sports curriculum.  Other local schools are showing interest in following this lead and participating in both intra-school and inter-school lacrosse.  If successful, this development will give Ballarat an underpinning schools lacrosse base of a kind that has never been achieved in Melbourne.

Tasi talks earnestly of plans to have in excess of 200 junior players in club competition in Ballarat by 2021.  That would make the Ballarat program larger than the Under 11 competitions conducted by any of the established States.  This progress is impressive but help is needed from the broader lacrosse community.  Ballarat, as a regional centre located more than an hour’s driving time from Melbourne, faces extra challenges in building momentum and achieving the critical mass of players and helpers needed to sustain a vibrant local competition.  The Melbourne University and Camberwell clubs have already made contributions to help but funding and donations of equipment, together with promotional and coaching help, are urgently needed from our parent Associations, clubs and experienced lacrosse people.

Anyone interested in following the Ballarat progress or helping can link into the Ballarat Royals Facebook page

 or contact Tasi Stampoultzis direct by phone, SMS or email.  Mob:  0413 089 037