A Personal Encounter with Lacrosse in Bogota - Part 2

COURTESY OF DONOVAN DENNIS


Earlier this month, USA Lacrosse staff member Donovan Dennis was asked by World Lacrosse to make a trip to Bogota, Colombia to hand deliver lacrosse sticks to local organizations. In the second of two parts, he shares his experience with a local players’ training session.

It was now the day to help out at a practice. There was one hiccup before the session even began — the goals and balls were sent to a different location. My host, Dani, and I arrived at the practice, and there were three men and two women who showed up. I was told that most people had to work. Others would have had to travel pretty far to attend. Our commute was about 45 minutes. The goal and balls were about 15 minutes away. We told everyone that the practice was being changed to a location closer to where we had to pick up the remaining equipment.

When we arrived at the new location only two more people showed up. We introduced ourselves and had a conversation about different things, like training and how difficult it can be to get a big group together. We played catch while we spoke.

Training was one of the topics I had discussed in my earlier talks with Dani. He explained some of the difficulties the group might face when trying to get individuals together. I spoke with the women I had just met at the training session, and I found a few of the things they said to be very interesting.

The number of players they try to get is between 15-20 people for a good practice. Their practices are for both men and women. The reason it is difficult to get that many people to practice consistently is work and location. Some practice locations are just too far for some players. The trainings usually last a few hours, so those who do come late can still train just a bit.

One of the women played on the Colombian women’s national team, and we spoke about her experience. She said she enjoyed it, and it was an experience she will always remember. She also noted the issue of visa problems. I was curious why getting a visa was so difficult, and they broke it down for me. It is hard to get visas as a team for tournament play, so that forces them to get visas individually. That is still a difficult process, although it’s an easier alternative to getting a team visa.

We also spoke about our personal lacrosse playing experiences and the different hopes we have for the game. The common hope was growth, not only in our respective countries, but all over the world.

While in Colombia, I got to enjoy not only spreading the game, but also the food, the sights, and seeing different perspectives. I got to eat a few dishes — my two favorites were ‘combo tamal con chocolate’ and a breakfast dish my host called ‘farmer’s breakfast.’ The tamal was a chicken dish with curry, a thick grain similar to risotto, peppers, and beans, all cooked in a banana leaf. It came with hot chocolate, bread, cheese bread, and cheese.







The farmer’s breakfast was different but also good. It had a broth, which can be chicken, beef, or pork. The broth I had was made from a beef bone overnight, then an egg is fried, potatoes are sliced, and it’s all combined in a bowl with the broth. Beef is also placed in the bowl to top it off. It was light but filling -- something I didn’t expect to be so good and flavorful.

As I toured the city of Bogota, I noticed that the buildings, the art, and everything else I saw was a unique mixture of new and old. There were many older buildings and modern buildings right next to each other. There was modern art on the walls, as well as graffiti. Trains and buses go by, and people pass in the busy streets. It reminded me a little bit of New York City. There were vendors along the sidewalks, little shops and even a llama in the town square. I was able to go to the Gold Museum and see the Plaza de Bolivar.

I also had the chance to visit the town of Guatavita, which was beautiful. Dani called it “the lagoon on the top of the mountain.” It was a small, quiet town. It looked untouched, as if everything there was original.

The trip to Colombia was refreshing and showed me there is more out there in the world than what I see in the USA. My goal in life is to be immersed in different cultures and to experience different parts of the world. To be able to help grow a sport that has done so much for me, and to help give that access to others, is something I want to continue to do. Who knows, maybe helping to grow the sport of lacrosse throughout the world will become my job one day?

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