JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Israel Lacrosse, an organization dedicated to the development of the sport of lacrosse in Israel, has been officially recognized by the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) as an Associate Member.
“The Federation of International Lacrosse Board of Directors has voted to accept Israel as an Associate Member,” said FIL Director of Development Tom Hayes. “We are extremely happy to include Israel as a member of the international community of lacrosse playing nations.”
Israel is now eligible to participate in FIL international lacrosse competitions, including the 2014 Men’s World Championship which will be held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colorado. The FIL also operates a Women’s World Cup, Men’s and Women’s U-19, and Men’s Indoor championship events.
“Our goal is to field a men’s team in 2014 and every FIL competition thereafter,” said Israel Lacrosse Director Scott Neiss. “We believe the national programs can fuel our developmental efforts to grow the sport here in Israel.”
Israel Lacrosse was formed in 2010 by Neiss, William Beroza and Howard Borkan. Israel is the 42nd country to be awarded FIL membership; with over 40 member countries, the FIL can now apply to join SportAccord, which puts lacrosse on the map with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). SportAccord requires a minimum of 40 member countries for Olympic consideration.
“If you’re not part of this group, you’re not getting into the Olympics,” said Hayes, who is targeting a 2020 or 2024 introduction of lacrosse. “We’re trying to take the steps to that now.”
Neiss, who splits his time living between New York and Tel Aviv, also serves as Deputy Commissioner of the North American Lacrosse League (NALL). He is heavily involved in the international lacrosse community, previously serving as a member of the management group of the United States men’s indoor lacrosse team, as well as a consultant for the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse program on special projects. A graduate of St. John’s University in New York, Neiss has experience on the professional outdoor lacrosse circuit, performing General Manager duties with the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) for two seasons.
Beroza, who will serve as head coach of Israel at the 2014 Men’s World Championship, is a member of both the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. An All-American from Roanoke College, Beroza was a three-time member of Team USA (1978, 1982 and 1986), winning gold as a goaltender and team captain in 1982. He also served as an assistant coach for Team USA in 1998, and coached Long Island Lacrosse Club for six seasons, winning three championships. Prior to coaching LILC, he played 10 seasons, winning six championships. He has played professionally for the New York Saints and Detroit Turbos, and currently serves as an assistant coach at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.
“I’m delighted to team up with Scott and Howard, two committed individuals that have the same passion I do for bringing lacrosse to Israel,” said Beroza. “We all look forward to coming to Denver in July of 2014 and standing proudly with the other 39 teams, realizing this amazing dream.”
Borkan, who will serve as the General Manager of Israel Lacrosse, has been involved in the sport in various roles for over 25 years. He helped form the NYAC Lacrosse Club in 1986, building championship-caliber teams within five years as General Manager and Vice-Chairman for both the USCLA and CALL squads. In 1988, Borkan was elected to the Board of Directors of the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation, the Long Island and New York City chapter of US Lacrosse. He has served as President, Vice-President of the LIMLF and as President (6 years), Vice President and Deputy Commissioner of the USCLA, as well as Chairman of the 1992 U-19 Championships held at Hofstra University. He was a member of the US Lacrosse Men’s International Committee for 18 years, including in a leadership role as National Teams Committee Chairman for 12 years, stepping down following the 2010 World Championships in Manchester, England. During that time, the United States won three U-19 gold medals and two Men’s World Championship gold medals. Borkan served as an assistant coach at the US Merchant Marine Academy from 1996-2001, and has coached youth lacrosse since 2008 in the Doc’s New York City program. He is a recipient of the Wittlesberger Award for outstanding contributions to club lacrosse, the Doc Schoenbaum Award for his contributions to lacrosse in the Long Island Metro area, and the Harvey Cohen Achievement Award for his devotion and service to lacrosse. Borkan has served as the color analyst on Cornell University men’s lacrosse broadcasts on radio and CornellBigRed.com since 2001.
“I am thrilled to be involved in an endeavor in which we introduce the great sport of lacrosse to the people of Israel,” said Borkan. “The idea of Israel participating in the next Men’s open championship and becoming a full member of the Federation of International Lacrosse is extremely exciting.”
In March, the FIL awarded Israel Lacrosse an equipment grant for 20 athletes, which will be used to outfit club teams in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Reebok donated equipment to the organization in summer of 2010, while players from Team USA personally donated used gear following the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in Prague.
“The support from the international lacrosse community has been overwhelming,” added Neiss.
Israel Lacrosse has also partnered with Bring It In – Israel to run 20+ youth clinics this summer across the country. The program kicks off on June 20th at Elazraki Children’s Home in Netanya, and makes stops in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Bat Yam, Ashqelon, and other locations.
“Our organization looks forward to holding youth clinics that focus on teaching lacrosse fundamentals, as well as the life skills found within the game,” said David Lasday, the founder of Bring It In – Israel. Lasday, a graduate of the University of Maryland, will also serve as a Sport Development Associate for Israel Lacrosse this summer.
For a full schedule of clinic dates or more information regarding participating on the Jerusalem or Tel Aviv club teams, visit http://www.israellacrosse.com.