“I don’t think anyone really knew what we had won.”
That’s what Jean-Luc Chetner sensed after he and his Team Israel teammates returned from Turku, Finland after winning the first-ever European Box Lacrosse Championship held July 7 to 15. The gold medal is also Israel’s first in a team sport in its 69-year history of the country, according to Israel Lacrosse.
“We have this big trophy. Everyone is clapping,” said Chetner of their warm welcome upon returning to Israel.
Chetner called his trip “a crazy experience.”
Chetner, a Penticton Minor Lacrosse Association product who has played lacrosse with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s University of Richmond Spiders, was named EBLC’s most valuable player. He scored four goals to help lead Israel past the Czech Republic 8-7 in the championship glory. He finished the tournament with 24 goals and 41 points in six games.
“I thought I played really well,” said Chetner.”It was pretty good lacrosse. I obviously didn’t know a lot of players. There were a lot of Europeans. I was pretty surprised with how good it actually was.”
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The championship game had the atmosphere of European soccer with fans chanting the entire time.
“It was pretty cool. Most of the crowd was cheering for the Czechs,” laughed Chetner, who is in the Spiders record books, fourth in goals (18), second in assists (13) and third in points (31).
That atmosphere added another element making it more fun to play in. Chetner felt the close score was good for the game and everyone watching and he sensed that fans were more into it. Chetner prefers playing in close matches and added that when it was over, he got a true sense of how close it was.
While Chetner liked being recognized for his performance, receiving a canon trophy, which weighed approximately 20 pounds, he said it was more important to win gold.
He loved the experience presented to him as he was able to play because of his Jewish heritage making him eligible to occupy one of four exemption spots. The door also opened thanks to one of his college teammates who played for Israel previously and asked if he wanted to play. He spent a month in Israel prior to the tournament and was able to see the country. The players visited schools and coached kids, helping the sport grow. After winning Israel it’s first gold medal and lacrosse championship, they traveled to the resort town of Natanya and Tel Aviv to show the people.