From NJ to Nairobi: Maplewood Lacrosse Club Reaches Across the Globe to Help Fellow Laxers in Kenya

by villagegreennj
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From the Maplewood Lacrosse Club, Kenya Lacrosse Club, and Women Like Us Foundation:

Twenty-five years after their last game together, a former college player reconnects with a long lost coach; resulting in an international philanthropic partnership rooted in a love of lacrosse. South Orange, NJ resident Glenn Minerley has been coaching with Maplewood Lacrosse Club for nearly a decade. Right before the start of the COVID pandemic, he reconnected with a former coach from his playing days at Cornell University, Peter Ginnegar.

A lacrosse lifer, Pete had spent the past few years involved in international lacrosse, working on bringing the sport to non-traditional markets and helping build international programs from the ground up. His most recent venture, helping coach the upstart Kenyan Men’s Lacrosse Team, was one of the most challenging. The thought was the Maplewood Lacrosse club could potentially help. 

Maplewood Lacrosse Club, located in suburban New Jersey has a legacy in philanthropy; regularly searching for opportunities for the club to publicly give back to those in need. The guiding principle of their philanthropic efforts has been to create partnerships where the kids have an active role; not limiting opportunities to parental check writing.

When hearing about the challenge of developing a lacrosse program in Kenya, Damon Webber, President of Maplewood Lacrosse Club, knew a partnership with Kenya Lacrosse could be a great opportunity for the club. 

Storm Trentham, President and Founder of Kenya Lacrosse truly created the program from the ground up. Starting with women’s lacrosse and now adding a men’s squad, the UK based Storm has been effective in navigating the challenges creating a program in Africa presents while preparing both squads for international competitive success. Kenya Lacrosse is not solely a sports organization. Alongside their lacrosse programs, they place a strong emphasis on education, health, and wellbeing. They require that all of their younger players are enrolled in school and provide support to any players that may face obstacles in obtaining education or adequate healthcare. 

The partnership with MLC was broken up into four key objectives: 

  1. Create a connection between the Maplewood and Kenyan players: In December, a Zoom call was conducted where 100+ Maplewood boys and girls players got a chance to meet multiple Kenyan Mens and Womens players, understand the challenges they face to play lacrosse and recognize that although their lives may appear to be very different, they truly share a core commonality- love of lacrosse
  2. Help support the adoption of lacrosse by Kenyan youth: Maplewood Lacrosse ran an equipment drive; collecting enough lacrosse equipment to outfit 60+ youth players. Providing youth players with equipment helps ensure a talent pipeline for the national team for years to come
  3. Help support the national team’s quest for international success: Maplewood Lacrosse purchased uniform kits for the men’s squad; ensuring they looked the part when facing international competition.
  4. Provide Kenyan women’s team access to basic needs to keep them on the field: Maplewood Lacrosse provided the team access to a year’s worth of sanitary products for all female players ensuring they had the ability to stay in school and keep competing. 

The Women Like Us Foundation, based out of California, was critical in assisting MLC with procuring sanitary products for the Kenyan Women’s team. When initially contacted, President Linda Rendleman was enthusiastic at the chance to extend the reach of her organization’s remit, being able to work with Kenya Lacrosse, an organization that personified the type women they aimed to help- dedicated, hard working females who needed access to the most simple resources to accomplish their dreams. WLUF served as a logistical partner; being able to source and deliver the needed sanitary products to the team locally. As a sign of gratitude for their participation, Maplewood Lacrosse Club donated funds used to purchase computers on WLUF’s behalf for use locally by a Kenyan women’s center. 

All three parties love the NJ/Nairobi lacrosse connection and hope to extend the program in the future to neighboring community lacrosse clubs, throughout the state, knowing that their mutual love of lacrosse can help local kids better understand the commonalities and connections they have with players all around the world. 

About Kenya Lacrosse Club 

International men and womens teams with the primary mission of inspiring a new generation of Kenyan athletes, through the power of lacrosse, to achieve a better future for themselves and their communities. For additional information, visit www.kenyalacrosse.org

About Maplewood Lacrosse Club 

Local youth sports association servicing the communities of Maplewood and South Orange, NJ focused on introducing the sport of lacrosse to boys ages 6-14. For additional information, visit 

www.maplewoodlacrosseclub.com

About Women Like Us Foundation 

The Women Like Us Foundation, a 501C3 charitable organization, has been active for over ten years; delivering projects in Uganda, Kenya, India, Serbia, Costa Rica, and the United States. Our current focus is working toward gender equality and economic stability for women and girls in Kenya through the establishment of the Women Like Us Center. The work is an important catalyst for social justice and it remains the prime focus of all our initiatives. For additional information, visit www.womenlikeusfoundation.org. 

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