Skip to content

Sports This Week - Taking lacrosse to South Africa

When it comes to lacrosse Chris Boushy, currently a member of the Halifax Thunderbirds of the National Lacrosse League, has approached things a bit differently.

When it comes to lacrosse Chris Boushy, currently a member of the Halifax Thunderbirds of the National Lacrosse League, has approached things a bit differently.

Boushy did not attend an American college, but rather played varsity lacrosse at Queen's University in Ontario.

But, he played well enough that at 19 he entered the NLL draft with a year of college eligibility left, and was selected 31st overall by the Saskatchewan Rush.

"I remember going out there for camp in November and getting smacked in the face with the weather," he said in a recent telephone interview.

Boushy didn't make the Rush, being the last player sent home, but got a deal with Buffalo before he got back to Ontario.

The year of college eligibility wasn't exactly a good fit with the Bandits and he ended up a Roughneck in Calgary, playing half a season before being traded to Rochester for eight games before that team moved to Halifax.

Boushy said playing in Halifax, limited as the time has been after the 2020 season was cut short due the COVID-19 pandemic has been exciting.

"I would go so far to say it's kind of the same vibe as in Saskatchewan (for the Rush)," he offered.

Boushy said Halifax is another smaller big city in Canada that has a great sports culture.

"The sports culture there is so vast. They're very passionate sports fans,” he said, but added they had no professional team locally to follow.

While they might not know lacrosse well the arrival of the NLL was welcome, said Boushy, adding "it was a not-brainer to jump on the bandwagon."

While Boushy is excited by the prospect of returning to the floor with the Thunderbirds in front of a passionate fan base, he also has set himself on a path to take lacrosse to the country of his birth; South Africa.

Boushy and his brother were both born in Johannesburg, his Canadian father in South Africa as a mining engineer where he married a local gal.

Interesting father Boushy was not a lacrosse player, but instead played hockey with a passion he took to South Africa with him, noted his son. His father played on the South African National Team that was a Div. III IIHF silver medal in Mexico City in 2005, and coached the country's junior team for a time too.

Chris never played hockey in South Africa as the family moved back to Canada when he was only four, and he gravitated to lacrosse.

Now he wants to help lacrosse get a foothold in the country of his birth.

"I've always had pride in my home country ... I'm very proud to be from a country with such a vast culture," he said, adding his mother's family remains there. He noted the family home has always been filled with South African memorabilia. "The fen shui of the house is very South African."

Lacrosse however is virtually unknown in South Africa, something Boushy hopes to change.

He explained there was a South African Lacrosse Project but that effort petered out a few years ago. He hopes this time to set a more lasting foundation for the sport in the country of his birth.

"It's something I've wanted to do," he said, adding now that he has established himself as an NLL player with Halifax "I have a larger platform to do this from."

While COVID has slowed things, Boushy has taken his first steps, including applying to the international body for the sport to have South Africa become a member nation.

Next, planned for this year, will be a foray into South Africa with equipment, handbooks for players, coaches and officials, and similar resources to help get people playing.

Boushy said he is also looking to find partners in South Africa to help with the effort.

While South Africa has a strong sport culture; soccer, rugby and cricket mainly, Boushy said there are some cultural barriers associated with each, or at least the barriers are still perceived to exist given the country's past. He said lacrosse as a new sport can start with a clean slate.

"A major part of this ... is a sport for all," he said, adding sport can be important in terms of being something inclusive for all regardless of a player's background.

As it stands lacrosse is played only in pockets in the whole of Africa, where six countries; Uganda, Kenya and Niger among them, having recognized sport organizations.

"They're not very competitive but they have a structure in place," said Boushy, adding he hopes South Africa will be on the list soon.

You can follow Boushy and his efforts in South Africa on Instagram (@chrisboushy) including when the South African Lacrosse Association website link drops.