The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) is initiating a consultation process through which members are being asked, entirely on a voluntary basis, to experiment with a new discipline and related set of playing rules for the sport.
The new discipline and draft playing rules have been developed by the FIL Blue Skies Working Group, responsible for examining innovative ways to best position the sport of lacrosse for continued growth in the 21st Century, including the long-term ambition of returning lacrosse to the Olympic Games.
This approach is consistent with work done by other leading International Federations, including World Rugby and the International Basketball Federation, which have introduced new disciplines or other modifications to their sports while, they claim, maintaining the integrity and traditions of their games.
The Blue Skies Working Group, chaired by FIL vice-president Steve Stenersen, began its work in September 2018.
Through a series of in-person meetings, conference calls and consultation with players, coaches and officials, a new discipline and initial set of playing rules has been developed.
In January 2018, the FIL Board of Directors endorsed the direction of the Blue Skies Working Group and recommended that FIL members be asked to experiment with the new discipline and playing rules.
Earlier this month, FIL members received the draft playing rules and have been asked to trial the new discipline, and provide feedback, during the next two months.
Based upon feedback from the FIL membership and further revision to the discipline and playing rules, the Blue Skies Working Group intends to present a final proposal for approval at the FIL General Assembly, scheduled to take place in Peterborough in Canada on August 12 and 13.
If approved, it is claimed the new discipline will be a complement to the current field and indoor disciplines sanctioned by FIL, and in no way will replace those disciplines.
The new discipline pertains to both men’s and women’s lacrosse, and is not a unified or co-educational division.
Appointed by FIL President Sue Redfern, members of the Blue Skies Working Group include Stenersen, FIL competition director Fiona Clark, athlete counsel representative Dana Dobbie, men’s official Terry Harding and England high-performance manager Jane Powell.
The others are FIL independent director David Ryan, FIL chief executive Jim Scherr, Octagon executive Scott Seymour and women’s official Mara Wager.
"The development of new, complementary disciplines of lacrosse is integral to the achievement of the FIL's strategic plan," Stenersen said.
"Our Blue Skies Working Group has had the unique opportunity to re-imagine the sport based on the goals of fuelling continued international growth, increasing spectator appeal and maximising media exposure.
"The rule drafts will continue to be refined based on feedback from our member nations, and we look forward to presenting final recommendations at the General Assembly in August."
Among the most notable variations in the trial rules are a six-on-six format, a smaller field of 70x36 metres and shorter games - four eight-minute periods of running clock.
Others include a 45-second shot clock, draws only at the beginning of each period and overtime and smaller squad sizes - 10 per team.
Last month, Redfern paid tribute to four officials from the FIL who helped the sport gain provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Redfern hosted a special dinner alongside a recent Board of Directors meeting in Philadelphia in the United States to recognise the efforts of Ron Balls, Stan Cockerton, Bob DeMarco and Tom Hayes.
Lacrosse, contested at two editions of the Summer Olympics - St Louis 1904 and London 1908, when the gold medal was won each by Canada - was granted provisional recognition by the IOC for a period of three years along with sambo and kickboxing at an Executive Board meeting in Tokyo in November.