Caitlin Casey



Caitlin Casey is the Sports Website Editor and has been a part of the Women’s Lacrosse team since her first year. Caitlin enjoys writing about Team Kent as well as entertainment and investigative articles.

Men’s Lacrosse is a sport fuelled with high impact, contact games. This year, the Canterbury City Lacrosse Club was formed, running in town every Monday night. By merging the Maidstone, University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church Lacrosse teams, the club was formed by Joey Burnett (Maidstone), Giorgio Michael (Christ Church) and Kieran Garvey (Kent), coming together to create a club united in Canterbury.

Open to all ages from sixteen-year-olds to mature players, Canterbury City Lax runs training sessions every Monday night and league games Saturday weekly.

InQuire Sports sat down with Kent students Kieran Garvey (City Co-vice Chairman, Kent Stags First Team Captain) and Charles Thomson (City Second Team Captain, Kent Stags member) to talk about why the club was set up and how it works.



Give us a run-down of your trainings and what goes on at City Canterbury Lacrosse.

Charles: The Kent boys come down from campus at 7:30pm on a Monday night and meet with the City guys at the Polo Farm Sports Club at 8pm. Trainings are 8-9.30pm.

Kieran: We alternate every week by going between Kent Stags training on campus and City where the Christ Church ground is. That changes every Monday. Games happen every Saturday, giving students an opportunity to play on Saturday if they can’t make BUCS Wednesdays [University Sports Teams game day].


You only train every other week?

K: Technically for Canterbury City yes. At Kent we couldn’t offer any of our facilities out with Kent Sport on campus to allow externals access, so we had to make a compromise and alternate every other week to visit them, so it doesn’t discourage our boys and lose interest when we’ve got a perfectly good ground at home. 

C: There are a few of us that go down every Monday because it’s more convenient.


What do you do in your trainings?

K: We have some qualified coaches there as well as our team. Sometimes we collaborate.

C: If Charlie (Kent Stags coach) is at City, he’ll take sessions if people are missing or late, or if he’s running something very specific for a position or play.

K: We have two dedicated coaches over at Canterbury City and they have a specific structured plan ready for our arrival, but it’s slightly shorter than our normal Kent Monday sessions. We do an hour and a half at City but at Kent we do a two-hour session on our own. There’s pros and cons to both training sessions. At City we get to practice with lots of levels of players, but at our home ground we get to develop our chemistry as our own team.



So, who runs the club, who made the decision to put it together?

K: The idea has been thrown out for years but never put together. I got in touch with the chairman of Maidstone Lacrosse club which used to have three competing teams and then they started losing numbers and students losing interest due to distance – a 45-minute drive. So, I made a proposition to the chairman of Maidstone and the chairman of Christ Church to work out a team, but we needed a whole new club name, a new kit, a training ground. Most of the training grounds were down to Joey who’s chairman of Maidstone. Getting the cooperation and getting the club materialised was down to me, Joey and Giorgio. I noticed the problem with Maidstone and I said their club was going to fold due to numbers. The sacrifice they had to make was moving their ground, so they had two competing teams instead of the one.

C: It’s also given us a much higher level of play and an interest in freshers. We bring freshers in every year to the Kent club, and now they’ve got an extra session a week and a higher level which they normally wouldn’t have. Because it’s not far away, it’s a far more welcoming experience to go there. There’s other freshers from the Christ Church team to interact with and train with.

K: The youngest is 15 and the oldest is in their 60s, and these are people who haven’t played before to people who have played to a national level standard and you always learn something new every week. It’s a bit more unpredictable on a Saturday game. You don’t really know who you’re playing, whereas you can do as much research for university teams because you know them on a weekly basis.


How did the collaboration affect Varsity?

C: In Varsity week, it breaks down to the way everyone used to play and the way it was. But on the other side of it it’s followed up by a Saturday game, everyone’s friends again. There are jokes made at the Saturday games of who won.

K: For the actual game day, everyone disregarded their friendship. But alongside that a lot of us were communicating more, hanging out more, some of us are even going to the same nights out which would have never happened

C: As we were training together, we knew how everyone played so during the game we were all pushing it.

K: They were identifying our weaknesses which would’ve never happened in the previous years. They were trying to predict how certain members would play. Both teams were training hard and both teams put a better performance than expected. But that was a significant contribution from Canterbury City club where everyone was competing.


Is there a different standard of performance?

C: Higher level of play from both the 1s and the 2s at City. The people at City are becoming better players. Todd, one of our freshers playing for Kent, has been coming to City and by next training session he’s a better player because of it.

K: Experience, game time and practice are the way to improve. Game time is one I’d say is the most crucial. An extra 90 minutes a week does wonders.



Has it taken away from your studies?

K: I feel that it’s helped with my studies. We were normally training on Mondays anyway, and as my role as captain of Kent I’m responsible for running those sessions. Being a final year, if my workload is getting too high, I have the fall back of putting training at Canterbury City. Our coach who trains us on Sundays, trains with us at Canterbury City so we got the best of both. Our coach is already there, and we already have guys leading the session, so I can lead the boys over to Canterbury city whilst I’m catching up with my own work.

C: I was unorganised, but I’ve had to organise things otherwise people can’t play and things aren’t sorted. I’m losing my Saturday every week, but it means I must get all my other things sorted and forced me to be a better student.

K: It has gotten better how the team’s grown from nothing. It was just an idea just before Christmas and by the new year we had new kits designed and ordered. That amped it up big time, the chemistry and the team and everyone wanting to buy new stash.


How does it differ in terms of the Kent team, in terms of membership and paying for the club?

K: The membership side of things was also a grey area. The season had already started, and Maidstone was trying to compete whilst we were converting it into a Canterbury city team. Now, our memberships for Kent comes with travel, insurance and a few benefits to the club paying about £70 a year. To pay for Canterbury City for the year it’s £10 this year. We did that because we knew the movement of the ground and creating a new club was an inconvenience for everyone. So, we met half way, so the students can keep the team afloat this year whilst we restructure it for next season.


How do you think the club is going to handle when students go home for holidays, summer and the student year ends?

K: It depends on the season because they’re slightly shifted.

C: There’s the City season because they play in the summer league it ends slightly later, but I’ve been told that if I’ve got players I have free reign because as soon as the schools finish, the pitches are available whenever. There’s also smaller 6s tournaments, so a smaller league.

K: In the UK, the lacrosse season is Winter. The summer is there for tournaments and lacrosse festivals.



Do you think it’s encouraged more people to join lacrosse?

K: I’d say so. I’d say it’s not going to be as effective as we want it because we haven’t been able to completely blast the social media side of it. I have had a few people who have seen us with our playing kit or our sticks around town, having had ‘Canterbury’ across the shirt and will ask questions. I had a guy who said he played ten years ago and saw me holding my playing kit whilst working. He asked me when we trained and was interested in picking it up. That’s the good thing about the sport, if anyone ever sees you with it and had played before they will approach you and ask questions.


Do you think in general Lacrosse is easy to access?

C: It really depends where you live.

K: In the UK, the further up north you go the more accessible it is because there’s more clubs. You have it taught in schools too. Down in the south you only really see it in boarding and private girls’ schools, you don’t really see it much, well at least not on any social media or news, any boys playing before uni unless you’re up north and there’s local teams that get you involved.

C: As of now, Canterbury City, the only men’s Lacrosse team in Kent. A whole county, one team, whereas in east or west midlands there’s seven or eight teams to a county.


How does the social side differ between the Kent club and City club?

C: After a City game, we’ll organise where food will be put on after a game. So, normally both teams will go, eat together, socialise, sit and drink.

K: Even if there’s high tensions in the game – where there has been before – between the two teams, and obviously being a high impact, contact game, if a referee hasn’t seen something, you have players that go nuts. You have to go with it. It’s become common practice, there’s no laws but it’s common practice to offer food and drink to the team that has travelled to come play with you. That’s that social side of it. As a team we do go out and drink together and it is just as messy as the university culture. Most of these people picked up lacrosse at university themselves.



How may people don’t go to university but play the sport?

K: The majority of the team are either people who picked it up as a local team or they had friends that were in the team and got recruited, or they played at university and kept it up after. There are people who have played before and bring their kids along. They’re the best players, the ones that start before university and get a head start. They’re very fortunate.

C: In the second team, our strongest players right now are sixteen, seventeen-year olds and their parents have driven them. One’s playing for the Welsh international team and he’s not even eighteen yet. They go to lacrosse because they don’t like football or rugby – which is the same for most lacrosse players. We get the rejects from everywhere else when they want a contact sport but don’t want to get involved with the rugby.

K: It’s a very highly social sport. It’s just how approachable every other team you come up against is. I’ve played with teams around the world that come to tournaments and everyone’s on the same wavelength. I think that’s what it is. I’ve played a few sports and I haven’t really had that. I think a lot of people join lacrosse at university because they have the opportunity to start at the same level as everyone else, so they don’t have the daunting thought that people have been playing for years. It’s what you put in is what you get out. If you train hard as a fresher, you’ll develop well.


Do you prefer University or City lacrosse?

C: City is on the pitch and somewhat off the pitch it’s a much more mature environment regardless of the players age. At university it is a lot of lad culture. People get into it a lot on the pitch. People blame other players for things that probably wasn’t their fault. But it’s because they’ve probably not had that experience where its better for the whole team to talk about this rationally than assigning the blame.

K: It’s very testosterone fuelled at university.

C: At city, yeah, we have younger players, but they start to learn very quickly that even if it is your fault, if you blame other people you’re not going to be an appreciated player and it’s not going to go down well for you.

K: You do feel very valued in the Canterbury City team. I think that’s the good aspect that I appreciate. I think with the university culture, even if you have good performance it doesn’t matter, you can still be roasted. It’s more mature at city. You have a wider variety of levels which makes it more exciting, it makes it more fun in the games. In university, it’s all similar levels and you can predict how the teams can form and all the stats for the other teams are more accessible and readily available.


How do you feel that there’s not a women’s team?

C: The women’s team didn’t get moved over because they have a stronger player base in Maidstone.

K: I was implementing this as well. When I was chatting to Joey and Giorgio, I was adamant on getting a women’s Canterbury team as well to give the girls more game time. The girls’ university team is one of the biggest on campus so, not everyone’s gonna get game time which is just a fact. I did speak to the individuals responsible for Maidstone women’s team and networked her to one of our women’s committee individuals who was keen on getting that relationship building. But obviously, it’s not my responsibility. I can help it and push it and guide it, but I can’t make it happen without both of them cooperating. I think it’s just a matter of time. We have tried but it’s the resources, funding and opportunities, you need everyone to want to do it at the same time. We were lucky to time it well for the men’s. I think it will be the men’s, then the women’s then a junior team will follow. But that will be in the next few years. Hopefully it will expand to other parts in Kent.

C: It’s just the start. We’ll make it bigger.


Name one specific thing that you love about the club.

C: It might sound stupid, but because of the age range you get humour from a sixteen-year-old to thirty-two-year-old and they’ll call each other out for something just stupid or funny. Because it’s such an age gap which you’d never see that in public or anything it’s unbelievably funny to hear on the pitch.

K: For me, it’s how I treat my Saturdays as a practice and learn my own skills, and a more understanding team. They’ll see when you’re trying to practice skills or plays and put them into motion. I consider that an extra practice for my Wednesdays when I’m running the team and I need to be on form. If I’m leading a team I can’t be making silly decisions on BUCS Wednesdays, whereas on Saturdays it’s more relaxed, laid back and everyone’s having fun, but we’ll still be pushing to win the game.



Canterbury City trainings are held every Monday from 8pm to 9.30pm at the Polo Farm Sports Club in Canterbury, league games happen every Saturday.

You can follow Canterbury City Lacrosse on Facebook and also contact them through Instagram.

Support the Team Kent Lacrosse team, the Kent Stags on Facebook and Instagram.


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