Building a lacrosse capital of the world

Taylah Comeadow, Lachlan Mackinnon and Jackie Bowyer are excited about the first box lacrosse court of its kind in Altona North. (Damjan Janevski) 235132_02

Goya Dmytryshchak

Altona Lacrosse Club and Newport Ladies Lacrosse Club are among the beneficiaries of the first box lacrosse court of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere to be built at Paisley Park in Altona North.

The court realises the vision of the late Alan Lewer, 48, who suffered a cardiac arrest in 2019 while coaching the Victorian Men’s team.

His brother, Altona Lacrosse Club president Mark Lewer, said the development of the court was “fabulous”, especially with lacrosse given provisional recognition status by the International Olympic Committee in November 2018.

“The type of court and the type they’ll be playing on is most likely very similar to the court that we’ve got,” he said.

“So, if we get the added bonus of having the new court and it becomes an Olympic sport at the Olympic Games, which isn’t set in stone but the first step was getting recognised by the International Olympic Committee … if that happens, you would expect to see a real jump in our numbers and people wanting to play the sport.”

Lewer, who said the sport attracted local players aged from five to 60 years, explained his understanding of why lacrosse was so popular in Melbourne’s west

“I was born in Williamstown,” he said.

“I know when I was growing up that you had a couple of choices: you had football or lacrosse.

“Our football side being Williamstown VFA; when I was a kid we were not doing very well – I think we were in second division in VFA – and against that, we had lacrosse where we had several people who’d represented the country overseas, including the two captains of the Australian side, male and female, being from the western suburbs.

“So, you looked at it and thought, well, with this sport, if I’m good enough I can get to go overseas and the other one we’d be playing division 2 in VFA.

“I also think that over the years, because it’s always been popular for over 100 years in the western suburbs – Williamstown Lacrosse Club’s one of the oldest lacrosse clubs in Victoria, for example – what happens is parents play, then their kids get into it, then their kids get into it, and it just grows.”

“It’s a fun sport, it’s an exciting sport to watch.

“It caters for everyone.”

The court will be available for the community to use when unoccupied by the tenant clubs.

Hobsons Bay councillor Peter Hemphill said Alan Lewer had been a huge advocate for the renewal of the old Paisley Park court.

“Alan wanted Paisley Park to become the box lacrosse capital of Australia,” Cr Hemphill said.

“Although he is not here to see it, I think the works we have done here over this short period of time would have made him proud.

“We have achieved his vision and then some, taking box lacrosse to a brand-new level with a facility that would rival any other community facility within the sporting landscape.”

The court will have LED lighting, interchange and officials’ boxes, dasher boards and posts, safety bollards and a shock pad sub-base to improve playability with a synthetic grass surface.

The state-of-the-art court includes multi-purpose functions, with Futsal lines being included to accommodate Futsal practice in future.

Hobsons Bay mayor Jonathon Marsden said the court would provide great possibilities for the wider lacrosse community, futsal players and sports fans.

“The construction of a ‘first in the southern hemisphere’ box lacrosse court will ensure continued growth of a local lacrosse community that is among the strongest in the world,” he said.