Chile Recognized as FIL's 60th Member Nation

Chile joins Argentina, Peru and Colombia as FIL member nations in South America.

South America has seen continued growth of lacrosse over the past few years, highlighted by the Colombian national team becoming the first from the continent to compete in the FIL Women’s World Cup last summer.

As it continued its expansion in the Americas, more countries have joined the lacrosse movement. Last week, Chile became the fourth country in South America — and first since Colombia in 2013 — to be recognized by the Federation of International Lacrosse as a member nation.

Chile follows Greece in its recognition as an FIL nation, becoming the 60th country worldwide to be accepted. 

The movement for lacrosse in Chile began in 2010, when founder Victor Zenteno found the sport on YouTube. Zenteno, a secondary education student focusing on athletics, fell in love with the unknown sport and began to reach out to fellow Chileans that played the game.

Zenteno saw the game grow as players began to train and compete together. Then, equipment started coming to the country via a few donors. That helped build a foundation for Chile Lacrosse.

“Lacrosse is actively thriving at the men’s, women’s and youth levels,” Bob DeMarco, FIL director of development, said. “It’s quite a story about how perseverance and hard work plus help from many generous sources equals success.”

Help also came from Trent Haffner and Vicente Aranguiz, who assisted in the development of lacrosse as a regional sport in Chile, Haffner serves as the head coach for the men's national team and Aranguiz plays the sport in Europe.

With Haffner at the helm, Chile competed in the inaugural Copa America in Mexico in 2015. Then, Chile hosted teams from Peru and Argentina in the Amistoso de les Andes, the first regional lacrosse competition in the country’s history.

The growth of the game also spurned club teams, like the one from the capital city of Santiago. That team later competed in the Abierto de Buenos Aries in Argentina — the largest lacrosse tournament in South America.

“These regional tournaments will provide the foundation necessary for Chile to begin to compete on the international stage,” Haffner said.

Among other contributors, Rodrigo Nakouzi aided the program with donations.

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