Lacrosse nets new players, needs more refs

Lacrosse has seen a jump in popularity on the Island in a relatively short amount of time, jumping from 270 players in 2015 to 370 players in 2016.

While Brad Bissett, the referee-in-chief for Lacrosse PEI, can't guarantee the number of players will continue to soar, he said it's important to be prepared for the jump.

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"We have to be prepared for that. We have to be prepared for more coaches required. We have to be prepared to have lots more officials on hand to make sure that the players are playing safely and the games are running smoothly," said Bissett.

Field lacrosse is played on a pitch, not unlike a soccer pitch — in contrast to the more well-known variety box lacrosse which is generally played in hockey arenas. There are 10 players on each side, including a goalkeeper.

"The way you work as a team, three is ideal. Three officials on the field is definitely the right way to go," said Bissett.

Opportunities for hockey officials

The opportunity to referee lacrosse has found officials from Canada's other official sport, hockey.

"We've had a lot of kids register for our training coming up in April that have said, 'You know, my friends play lacrosse. I don't, but I'm a hockey official and I'd like to join and try lacrosse officiating,'" said Bissett.

Bissett said the number one prerequisite for becoming a lacrosse referee is good leadership skills, but that a solid understanding of the rules is also required.

"I've been officiating for a year and I still go back and read through the rulebook to make sure I'm clear," said Bissett.

Training for the new lacrosse referees will take place on April 1 in Charlottetown.

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