NZ Blax have high hopes for world cup
The New Zealand Blax have set bold ambitions for the 2017 Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in England.
Moving from 12th to 11th on the world rankings in the 2013 edition wasn’t enough, and now they want to crack the top five.
It will be a tough task in a tournament that is continually expanding - this year’s competition will have six new teams added making a total of 25.
However, the extra hurdles aren’t bothering NZ Blax veteran Sian Keys, who will be attending her fourth world cup.
‘‘We didn’t quite perform to our true potential in 2013,’’ Keys said.
‘‘Going into this world cup in July, our target is to really be up there in the top five, but that’s a stretch goal.’’
The countries standing in the Kiwis way are dominant forces.
The United States hold the top spot, with Canada, Australia, and England close behind.
However, the game continues to grow in New Zealand and in recent times, a host of young New Zealand women have ventured into the US college system and helped further the national team’s competitiveness.
‘‘The amount they are learning up there is amazing,’’ Keys said.
‘‘And bringing that all back here with their skills and coaching makes us a lot more competitive.’’
Keys had a slightly unorthodox path to New Zealand’s national team.
A native of England, the One Tree Hill resident started playing when she was 12 at her boarding school.
She debuted for Wales in 1999, playing in two world cups, before applying to the International Federation of Lacrosse to switch allegiances to New Zealand after moving here to be with her Kiwi husband.
And while the choice of a niche sport like lacrosse might seem unusual to some, for 33-year-old Keys it’s been an integral part of her life.
‘‘For me, it’s always been an awesome way of meeting and getting to know people,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s really fast paced, you need good hand-eye coordination and a good combination of fitness and speed.’’
The New Zealand Blax will fly out to Surrey, England in July, with the tournament’s roundrobin stages commencing on July 12.
New Zealand Blax lacrosse stalwart Sian Keys will travel to her fourth world cup this year, hoping her side can crack the top five.