March 31, 2020
Dear World Lacrosse Members:
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Management of World Lacrosse, I am writing today to extend our continued best wishes to you, your family and your lacrosse family for good health, strength and safety as, together, we play our part in combatting the global pandemic brought about by the COVID-19 virus.
While the impact and reach of this pandemic is unprecedented in recent time, so too has been the response of people all around the globe. Whether it’s through adhering to the advice of your public health authorities, or finding ways to safely volunteer to make certain those in our communities who have the greatest needs are looked after, or simply offering an encouraging message of support to your friends, teammates and loved ones — every day, I am inspired by the acts of generosity, appreciation and optimism we see across our global lacrosse family.
Today, I’d like to take a few minutes to update you on recent actions that have been taken by World Lacrosse, and also look ahead to what may be next for our international federation and all of you, our members. Our recent actions include:
1) In early March, as the scope and impact of this pandemic began coming into sharper focus, I appointed a World Lacrosse COVID-19 Task Force, led by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Sutton, to gather the most up-to-date information and provide advice, as requested, to our member-National Governing Bodies, Continental Federations and Board of Directors. I’d like to publicly thank the Task Force for its input and recommendations, and we know the lacrosse family will continue to look to this group for guidance.
2) This past week (March 24), based upon input from the COVID-19 Task Force, it was determined that our Men’s U19 World Championship will not be held in 2020, as originally planned, in Limerick, Ireland. This decision is based entirely upon protecting the health and well-being of the athletes, coaches, officials and other participants in the event, and that will always be the number one priority for World Lacrosse.
This decision was made in full consultation with the Chair of the Limerick 2020 Organizing Committee, Michael Kennedy, and the event delivery partners in Ireland, including the University of Limerick. We cannot thank Michael enough for his ongoing support and leadership. World Lacrosse is stronger and better because of the contributions and commitment of people such as Michael, and in this instance, we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
3) At the direction of our Chief Executive Officer, Jim Scherr, our Management Team convened two virtual “Town Hall Meetings” this past Friday (March 27) to gain input directly from the leaders of our National Governing Bodies and Continental Federations. While much of the discussion focused on alternatives and options for the Men’s U19 World Championship, there was discussion of the wider impacts of the global pandemic on World Lacrosse, and how our organization might assist our members as, collectively, we work to navigate these unprecedented challenges. The discussion during both Town Hall Meetings was extremely positive and will enable Jim to bring forward a series of recommendations for our Board of Directors to act upon.
4) Last week, we launched a series of video messages across our digital/social platforms, encouraging our members to #playyourpart in combatting the global pandemic. These messages have been among the most-engaged pieces of content we have produced, and we are extremely grateful to our members for taking this advice to heart. The video series will continue this week and well into the future, with messages of support from voices across international lacrosse.
Now, I’d like to share a preview of what lies ahead for World Lacrosse — recognizing, of course, that for all of us, the landscape is changing almost daily:
1) Our Board of Directors is scheduled to meet, via teleconference, on April 7. It is during this meeting I expect the Board will act upon a recommendation from Jim regarding the Men’s U19 World Championship, and we will have a public announcement shortly thereafter. We appreciate the importance and impact of this decision for the players and families involved and will work to get an update to you as quickly as possible.
2) Jim will also be presenting to the Board a revised budget for 2020, which will include a series of responsible reductions and reallocations to make certain World Lacrosse is in the best position possible to weather this storm, while also continuing to fulfill our mission as an international federation.
3) In the coming weeks, we will launch a series of instructional webinars for representatives from our National Governing Bodies, in areas such as officiating, coaching, business development, strategic communications and marketing. This is a recommendation that came through during the Town Hall Meetings and we greatly appreciate the encouragement.
4) Our Board is also looking at different formats for our 2020 General Assembly and the impact technology can play in helping us to conduct our business safely and efficiently.
Perhaps the most important message I can deliver during this challenging time is this: our international lacrosse family is pulling together as never before, to do our part in combatting this global pandemic and restoring opportunities for sport. When you see the story of someone like Dr. Eleanor Gaastra, an intensive care anaesthetist who is also Captain for the Wales Lacrosse Women’s National Team, you cannot help but be inspired by the important contributions being made by our lacrosse family. We see many examples around the world of medical and healthcare professionals, who are on the front lines of combatting this pandemic and fighting to ensure our health and well-being, who have deep ties to the sport of lacrosse. It is inspiring and I know you join me in offering our unending gratitude and appreciation to these heroes.
Equally, please know that we are here for you — every member of our Board of Directors and Management Team is only a phone call or email away. The same is true for your teammates, coaches and fellow competitors. Our international lacrosse family is more united than ever, and I am confident we will continue to Play Our Part in meeting this unprecedented challenge and, someday soon, return to the fields of play.
Until then, and as ever, continued best wishes to you and yours for good health.