Lacrosse-roads: net gains in Russia

Despite being far from a major pastime in Russia, the North American sport of lacrosse has already got a competitive fixture nailed down between the country's two major cities.

­Lacrosse is recognized as the oldest North American sport, with origins in the fifth century.

The Native Americans, who took it to their hearts, even went as far as calling it "the little brother of war".

Many amendments have occurred since then, allowing its popularity in the US, and indeed worldwide, to flourish.

“It’s a team game, so it’s got that competition thing,” one of the lacrosse player told RT. “It’s in the air. It’s three dimensional and gives more scope for clever stuff. You’ve got your stick and it’s like an extension of yourself. The contact thing is kind of fun cause you’re all padded up. You’re not going to get that hurt, really.”

Lacrosse has been a surprising revelation for Russian audiences. Despite having few domestic players and just two big clubs – one each in Moscow and St. Petersburg – the sport's stature is growing and every match between the rivals is a big event.

Lacrosse has been at two Olympic games, in 1904 and 1908, with Canada topping the podium on both occasions.

It is also the national summer sport of that country. The physically-demanding pastime, with its full-contact stance, is not too dissimilar to the country’s No.1 sport, ice hockey.

There are, of course, differences between the two. Somewhat surprisingly, for example, some women find it easier to take part in a lacrosse match than a hockey one.

“I was looking for teammates to play hockey, but got into lacrosse and now I like it,” lacrosse player Konstantin Kologreev said. “Not a lot of people here know anything about the game and I like to watch people's amazed faces when they see my stick and helmet in the streets.”

There is still a long way to go for lacrosse before it becomes a well-known sport on Russian soil but if the enthusiasm of the people already playing it here is anything to go by, the signs are that it will happen sooner rather than later.