Press Release: 24 June 2012
Wales Men Progress in European Championships 2012
Three sound wins for Wales in their first three group matches augurs well for the
knock out stages of the European Championships in Amsterdam. A commanding
win 17-0 against France was followed by further wins against Norway 12-3 and
Slovakia 12-6. The last group match on Monday 25 June is against Israel, also
unbeaten so far in the tournament.
Any team that plays under the inspiration of a fire-breathing dragon is going to
set light to a tournament and the 2012 Wales team is living up to its promise of
fireworks in Amsterdam. A blend of veterans and international newcomers is
creating a potent force that is setting the Green Group ablaze.
Wales finished 11th in the World Championships in Manchester 2010 and are
going through a redevelopment phase with a route map arrowing across the next
decade. “It is a transition time for Wales and we want to build Welsh lacrosse at
grass roots, club and international level,” said Head Coach Dan Funnell. “We are
laying down foundations of a progressive set up that must endure for years to
come. But if anyone thinks that we are here to test the waters, think again. This is
a strong, determined squad who will fight across every inch of the pitch.”
Wales are lead by attacker Paul Simpson, a clinical finisher who has played in
the last three World Championships, and Jason Jones, a pacey all-rounder who
will control an agile defensive unit. Rhodri Evans, the towering defenceman
from Sheffield Steelers, is again a key part of a team that will cover the turf with
lightning speed, force turnovers and initiate rapid-fire attacks. Midfielder Dave
Howie’s athletic ability in transition will ensure that the Dragons have the flame-
heeled speed to unsettle opponents.
Funnell, a former Wales player and player-coach, took over the team in 2011
and brought in assistant coach Martin Jackson, a veteran from the 2006 Worlds
and 2008 Euros. Their focus has been to establish a co-ordinated plan that will
build through the Euros, to the next World Championships in Denver, USA, and
beyond. “It is important to put everything into every tournament you enter. It is
all about winning,” he added. “But we also need to think about the future, how
we build Welsh lacrosse, encourage new players and support our elite players.
We have always competed well and pushed teams all the way in tournaments
but we must now be in the business of winning tournaments as well. The players,
coaches and support staff all buy into that way of thinking and if we stay that
way, we will get better and better.”
Competition for squad places has been intense and a measure of the burning
lacrosse desire in Wales can be gauged by the turn out at the recent British
National Championships where the nation fielded representative teams from
the U-19s, the Welsh Universities and the Dragons, a mix of squad trialists and
recent international players all delighted to wear the national badge with pride.
Alongside, the full Euro squad went through training sessions.
The Welsh national team was formed in 1991 and has competed in European and
World championships ever since. It has always been a Top Ten team finishing
from 3rd to 7th since 1995.
“We are very pleased by the level of interest and commitment from the
players. To have four squads in action over a weekend is a triumph and very
promising for the future,” added Funnell, who has recently helped set up Epsom
Lacrosse Club in England and guided them to a trophy win in only their second
season. “We are building a great support system for the players so they can
concentrate freely on their performances,” he added. “Amsterdam will be a
great experience for all the Welsh squad and we know there will be a fantastic
welcome and great organization. The lacrosse experience will be amazing and I
want the players to treasure this moment, enjoy it, learn from it and help build
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