2021 PALA Sixes Cup Brings 10 Teams from 7 Nations to Florida

Panama was recognized as World Lacrosse’s 66th member national governing body on April 22, 2020. More than one year later, the Panama men’s lacrosse team is gearing up for its first-ever practice on Thursday. 

Ryland Huyghue’s team will practice a second time Friday before participating in the 2021 PALA Sixes Cup, an event in Auburndale, Fla., featuring 10 teams from seven Pan American countries. The PALA will host both a men’s and women’s tournament, showcasing World Lacrosse’s new Sixes discipline and setting the stage for what PALA president Katherine Loh hopes will be an annual competition. 

“As a federation, we’re hoping to add this as our marquee competition,” Loh said Wednesday. “That’s why we’re branding it as the PALA Sixes Cup. We hope that every year we will host this event and our members will come out and play.” 

The men’s tournament will feature Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Peru, Panama and two teams from Colombia. The women’s tournament will feature Puerto Rico, Argentina, Colombia and the Iroquois Nationals. 

Sixes, a 6-on-6 discipline with a shorter field and fast-paced play, allows for countries like Panama that are new to international lacrosse to find equal footing with nations that have established lacrosse traditions. Smaller rosters of just 12 players means significantly reduced costs. 

Because of COVID-19 protocols, Panama will field a team of heritage players currently located stateside, but Huyghue hopes the weekend serves as a springboard for lacrosse growth in the country. 

“We’re using this opportunity to build our content, bring it back to Panama and show, ‘Hey, we have our first official Panama Lacrosse team,’” he said. “This is a huge opportunity for us to show the country of Panama that they have a lacrosse team they’ve never had. 

“That’s what’s really important with us. This is giving us an opportunity to take what we’ve done here in Florida back to Panama to get these kids, coaches, officials, government officials excited about a new opportunity to get kids off the streets and give them more athletic opportunities.”

Nico Prandi and the Argentina women’s lacrosse team are out to do something similar. Prandi said this tournament will serve as “a piece of the growth equation,” a chance to gain traction for a women’s national program back in Argentina. 

“Being part of the Argentinian program, which is still trying to gain some traction on the women’s side, being part of this tournament is a huge step in the right direction,” Prandi said. 

Loh said the event will also serve as an educational opportunity. Delegates from Chile will attend not to compete, but to observe how an event is run in hopes of hosting an event of its own down the line. 

World Lacrosse will also host two coaching development clinics while teams are in Auburndale this weekend. 

“Countries are able to really tap into resources,” Loh said. “USA Lacrosse is sending in experts in events and athlete development, so we are going to see how they can connect with some of our national governing bodies and make a connection and consult on developing elite athlete development programs. 

“It takes so much to mobilize a national team, so when they are here, we want them to maximize the investment they’ve put in. It’s not just playing. We’re going to connect you with resources.” 

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