Hundreds of thousands of young people are being denied the opportunity to learn lacrosse, after 78 coaches were refused UK visas, the sport’s governing body says.
English Lacrosse said that the coaches, from the US, had been turned down for visas to take part in a British scheme to bring lacrosse to an estimated 200,000 young people in schools and universities.
The group has been responsible for bringing around 1,250 lacrosse coaches from non-EU countries into the UK since 1982 to boost participation in the sport. Around 60 per cent of those who take up lacrosse are female.
But the coaching scheme has now been suspended by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI), which said it broke visa criteria. English Lacrosse was given 20 days to respond to the decision.
In a statement, the organisation said: “Sport participation, particularly amongst females is a hot topic with the Government. Yet, our sport enabling coaching programme has been given just 20 days to close its doors. This decision has been taken with no option of support, or opportunity to challenge. Help us make some noise and draw attention to this situation.”
The group said it had been accused of operating as an employment business rather than a sporting governing body and that the coaches it was aiming to bring to the UK were not working at sufficiently high a standard to be classified as elite. I
The news comes after a recent change in the requirements for governing bodies was put in place by the Government, which reclassified English Lacrosse as an employment business. As such, it must meet different requirements when applying for visas.
Sue Redfern, English Lacrosse’s board chair, said the group was unaware it had broken any rules and would make changes to meet the new requirements.