So here I am, almost a month after the Ales Hrebesky Memorial 2017. Only coming down now from the lacrosse heaven I was in. I remember telling myself before the trip to go into it with no expectations and take it all in as I go. Well, I can honestly say it was one of the best weeks of my life and for sure my favourite lacrosse experience to date. It took me this long for it all to sink in. Now I will try to explain this masterpiece.
Radotin, a small town outside of Prague have been hosting this event for 24 years. One wouldn’t think that this is the heart of Lacrosse Europe but I can assure you, it is the Mecca!
The Ales Hrebesky Memorial is the biggest international tournament besides the World championships or Euros. I was impressed on how smoothly things ran for four days straight, from start to finish. The tournament was ran professionally, displayed detail which gave it character and personality as an event. The amount of work and organisation that goes into this tournament is definitely a year round ordeal. To give one example: Each player flying into Prague gets picked up from the airport and driven to their accommodation. The same goes for when they want to leave. So that’s maybe 18 (some just drive in) teams with almost twenty or so on each squad, roughly 360. Figuring out flight times for 360 lacrosse players can be quite the task to say the least.
Ales Hrebesky Memorial – The Venue
When the memorial was in its infancy, the floor consisted of dirt and saw dust. Radotin loves lacrosse and just wants to play no matter what…respect.
After several years they got funding from the government and now have a beautiful outdoor box. International sized box with turf, stands, a video booth and even a large screen to show replays. It’s an honour to play in a place with such history and respect for the game.
In addition, there is a small green space right beside the box in which a BBQ is set up with delicious food, beer and hot wine served all day. Then, right beside that there is a pub which gives you even more food and drink selection. The fun never ends for these four days in Radotin.
Ales Hrebesky Memoial – The Tournament
Now here we go, the Ales Hrebesky Memorial 2017. It begins on the Wednesday morning with Lacrosse games being played all day everyday until Saturday night. On Wednesday evening there’s an opening ceremony in which all teams are invited onto the floor to begin the event. This year there was a nice display of gymnastics from a local Radotin group. After that there were a couple of speeches displaying the spirit of the game and tournament. It concluded with a speech from Ales’s Mom, something I have seen for the past 3 years on the internet. Being there though this year…nothing but goosebumps. There was something special in the air and it lasted until the closing ceremonies Saturday night.
Even though it rained for most of the tournament, Radotin was prepared and the games still went on. Whenever there was a break in a game, volunteers for the tournament would come on the floor and squidgy all the excess water. I have never played a Box Lacrosse game in the rain so it was something very new to me. Didn’t matter though, thinking back on it now I barely thought about the rain. So much is going on around you, so many people celebrating the game of Lacrosse from all over. Weather is one of the last things you think about when in Lacrosse heaven.
It took me a while to piece together everything and probably could write a book about my experience. Since it was only my first year at the tournament I wanted to keep it simple and just share the tip of the iceberg with you.
If you have never been, I strongly suggest that you start saving money now for next April. Players from all over the world come to conjugate, celebrate the life of Ales Hebresky, give thanks to the Creator for such an incredible game and of course, spread the medicine which is Lacrosse.
Come one, come all to Radotin in 2018.
For more information on the Ales Hrebesky Memorial you can go to the official website.