By Sam Laskaris
SEATTLE – Wayne Kaboni finally got an opportunity to promote an association that he co-founded during a weekend of pro field lacrosse games.
Kaboni, a member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory who now lives in Merritt, B.C., helped launch the Indigenous Lacrosse Association (ILA) in 2018.
The ILA promotes the history of the sport and also advocates to grow the game at the community, provincial, national, and international levels.
The ILA was created following the support it received from the Assembly of First Nations during its annual general assembly in 2018, held in Vancouver that year.
The ILA also recently received another tremendous boost, on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21. That’s because Kaboni had a booth set up in Seattle promoting the association, during weekend action for the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), a professional men’s field lacrosse circuit, which includes many of the sport’s top players.
The PLL, which features eight clubs, has all of its teams travel to different American cities each weekend, from June through September.
League entrants do not represent specific cities. Participating squads are named Whipsnakes, Chrome, Archers, Atlas, Waterdogs, Redwoods, Chaos, and Cannons.
Kaboni said he’s been in contact with PLL officials the past couple of years trying to figure out how he could promote the ILA at one of their weekend events. The original plan was to have an ILA booth at a PLL weekend in 2020.
“COVID kind of changed the trajectory of everything,” Kaboni said, adding the COVID-19 pandemic hindered his ability to travel to the United States. “And we couldn’t cross the border last year.”
Kaboni estimates at least 750 fans dropped by his booth during the PLL stop in Seattle. They were able to learn about the history of the sport and see various types of sticks that have been utilized in the sport over the years.
“We talk about the game,” Kaboni said. “And we let people hold the sticks and tell them about the stickgames.”
Kaboni said wooden sticks, which used to be the norm in lacrosse, were a huge hit for those who visited the ILA booth.
“People got to see some of the wooden sticks,” he said. “Some of them had never seen or held one before.”
Four PLL contests were held during the weekend, two on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
Kaboni said spectators were dropping by the ILA booth throughout the weekend.
“It was steady,” he said. “I went through a box of business cards.”
Kaboni isn’t surprised that the PLL, which was launched in 2019, was keen to include the ILA at one of its weekends.
“Their goal is the same as ours – growing the game,” Kaboni said.
Besides the fact the ILA booth had numerous fans dropping by throughout the weekend, Kaboni said there was another way he was able to determine the association created some interest.
“We had lots of new followers on our Facebook page,” he said. “That’s an indication that it was a success.”