Justin Manjares: Selling lacrosse to basketball-crazy Filipinos

His father introduced him to the game when he was in elementary school.

His father introduced him to the game when he was in elementary school.

A Long Island man is on a mission to grow the sport of lacrosse in the Philippines.

Justin Manjares, 31, of Dix Hills is working with a New York team to raise awareness about the sport in a country that worships basketball and where almost every neighborhood block has a hoop.

Justin, who is director of Outreach of the Philippines Lacrosse Association (PLA) in Long Island, announced a fundraising game between the PLA and the Louis Segreto 26 Foundation (LS26) at Hofstra University on June 21. The event is being hosted by the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse.

According to Justin, the PLA has recently been accepted as the 50th member nation of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). The PLA will be raising funds to further promote the development of the sport in Manila.

“Our main goal is for Filipino lacrosse players in the Philippines to be given the same opportunity FilAms have had here in the States,” Justin told The FilAm.

Justin has played the sport since he was in elementary school. He is currently coaching men’s lacrosse collegiate level at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx.

The way he explained it, lacrosse has a lot of potential in the Philippines. “It does not require height, and it incorporates a lot of different sports like soccer, hockey, and, yes, even basketball.”

In this sport, believed to be of Native American origin, a score is made when a ball is shot into the opponent’s goal. But instead of dribbling, the players use a stick to propel the ball toward the goal.

According to Justin, lacrosse was officially introduced to the Philippines in September 2013 when he and PLA President Ron Garcia met with officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission in Manila to inform them of their objectives. The plan is to develop lacrosse across the country under the guidance of these two agencies, he said.

While in the Philippines, Justin and Ron also held clinics for about 400 students in Manila, Bacolod, Cebu and Tacloban. As a result, two schools – Silliman University in Dumaguete and International School in Manila — have added lacrosse to their Physical Education curriculum, said Justin.

Proceeds from the June 21 event will all go to the Philippines to further promote the sport, considered by some as an elitist game because it uses expensive gear and equipment.

“This is the negative of our sport,” Justin conceded, adding, “but people have been very generous with their equipment donations.”

The PLA sends balikbayan boxes full of equipment every three months to players in the Philippines, he said.

“There is hope lacrosse will become an Olympic event in 10 years,” said Justin.

For now, his group is pleased to be a member of the Federation of International Lacrosse. “It’s a big deal,” he said.

Introducing lacrosse to Filipino children...

Introducing lacrosse to Filipino children…

...and young girls.

…and young girls.

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