The U19 Iroquois Nationals earned a bronze medal in the World Championships in Finland last month, but the community is still a buzz about whay they accomplished.
In the previous international world games in 2010, the Nationals were not allowed to travel to England with their Haudenosaunee passports. The Nationals did not compromise in their conviction to travel with their own passport. Despite numerous attempts by Haudenosaunee officials in meetings with representatives from the UK, USA, and Canada, England would not accept the Haudenosaunee passport. In contrast to England, Finland welcomed the Haudenosaunee and their passports.
“There was so much support for our team. Everywhere we went, people were glad that we were there and treated with the highest regard and respect,” reported Coach Freeman Bucktooth to the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs about the trip. “We felt honored wherever we went.”
The tournament was a memorable one for the Nationals on the playing field as well. The Nationals opened the Championship with a resounding win over England. Next for the Nationals was a highly anticipated match with Team Canada. The Nationals played the Canadians tough.
Coach Bucktooth said of the game, “We were right there with them. If it weren’t for a couple of questionable calls, the outcome might have been different.”
Next for the Nationals was Team USA. Team USA, who also lost to Canada earlier in the tournament, found themselves in a battle with the Nationals for second place. Team USA started strong and had an early lead only to the Nationals battle back to tie and eventually win on a very intensely played game. For the Nationals, it was the first time they have beaten Team USA since the Nationals’ first FIL Championship in Australia in 1990.
Coach Bucktooth added, “Right after the game, I thought of Oren. All the work he has done over the years for the team has led to this historic win.”
The Nationals finished the tournament with a decisive win over Australia, a semi-final rematch with Team USA which the Nationals lost, a bronze medal win over England to conclude the tournament, and Onondaga’s Lyle Thompson was named ‘Midfielder of the Tournament.’
After the conclusion of the tournament, Coach Bucktooth told the team of the Onondaga Nation’s efforts (politically, financially, and spiritually) to help the U19 Iroquois Nationals trip to Finland such a success.
“The boys wanted to say Nyaweñha (Thank you) to the Onondaga Nation for all of your support,” said Coach Bucktooth. “And on behalf of the Iroquois Nationals, we would like to present to the Nation the ‘Spirit of Lacrosse’ award for not only your support this year, but for your continuous support of the Iroquois Nationals since the beginning.”
It was a good tournament indeed. Go Nationals!