By: Bruce Campbell
Some players from the foothills were worried they didn’t have the horses to win an international polocrosse tournament for their country last month, however, they proved their concerns were unwarranted.
When all was said and done the players from the Millarville Polocrosse Club helped rein in the first-place trophy for Team Canada by beating host France 14-9 in the final of the Festival Equestre du Marquenterre July 27-29 in St. Jean-les Rue.
Polocrosse is a combination of lacrosse and horsemanship. There are three riders from each side on the field. The goal is for the team to work together and split football-like uprights at the end of the field for a goal.
Team Canada, which consisted of four members from the foothills area, had a slight disadvantage. They couldn’t bring their own horses due to expenses so the animals were supplied to them at the tournament — kind of like if the Detroit Red Wings told the Flames what skates they would use when they played in the Motor City.
However, for Team Canada, it was like the skates weren’t quite sharpened right.
“We had fjord-cross (horses) and they are quite a bit stockier and sturdier than the thoroughbreds we were used to playing with at home,” said 23-year-old Kayla Hicks from Millarville. “We were a little bit worried that we would be slower, but it turns out the other teams used similar horses.”
Hicks, a defender, said Team Canada was forced to play a more controlled passing game due to the slower horses.
“There were m-pick to get away from (the opposition) because you have faster horses,” Hicks said. “In France we were forced to hold on to the ball, make sure you get every pick-up and every pass.”
They picked up the game immediately and, fortunately, opened against Norway, one of the more inexperienced teams in the tourney.
They won the match rather easily.
“We had a little bit of trouble at the start because the fields aren’t quite as smooth as they are here,” Hicks said.
“We then were able to get used to it.”
They then downed Netherlands and Germany 10-4 and 15-7, respectively, to set up a winner-take-all match against France who also had a 3-0 record.
Isabelle Ladiges, 17 from Okotoks, said she was honoured to win for her country.
“It was a proud moment,” she said.
She agreed it took time to get used to the horses.
“We had a few days to practice with our horses but a game is much different,” Ladiges said. “In a game situation there’s pushing, stopping and turning, it takes a little while, but after our Norway game we got used to it.”
She said the experience will only help her and her teammates in the future.
“It gave me international experience and I got to play different styles on different horses,” she said.
Hicks said the ultimate goal is for Team Canada to return to the World Cup, which will be held in South Africa in 2015.
“We still have a lot of work to do to do well in the World Cup,” said, Hicks who was a member of Team Canada in 2007 in Australia.
However, Team Canada first wants to return the hospitality they received in France. The plan is to invite teams from the French tournament to Millarville for a tournament next year. Teams from the United States and the United Kingdom may also attend.
The other members of Team Canada from the Millarville club were William Horne, Renee Hicks and Samantha McCulloch.
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