Brothers buoy Belgium Beasts at Boxmania
Lacrosse: Okotoks' Van den Wildenbergh siblings teammates for first time
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017 06:00 am
A series of firsts will play out for Okotoks brothers at an international box lacrosse showcase.
Branko Van den Wildenbergh will make his debut for Team Belgium while sharing the uniform with older brother Tibor for the first time as the Belgian Beasts march into Boxmania next month in France.
“This will be the first time we’re playing together and that’s all I’ve ever wanted,” said Branko. “It was always difficult playing with him in the driveway because he was always just trying to make me look like a fool in net. He influenced me a lot, was always there when I didn’t feel like I was playing as well as I should have. He was the support I needed.”
Tibor is no stranger to the international stage having represented Belgium at the FINA World Championships in 2014 and more recently at the European Field Lacrosse Championships in 2016.
Boxmania, held Nov. 4-5 in Lille, offers a new wrinkle as a box lacrosse showcase in a continent where the field version of the game has much more of a culture and history.
The 2017 competition will be the eighth since its inception in 2009.
“They don’t ever really play box lacrosse over there,” said Tibor, an attacking player. “It’s hard with being in Canada, but I send over some links of good games to watch or plays to practice.
“They haven’t been playing field lacrosse their whole lives so it’s still fresh enough that you can kind of put new ideas in their head on how to play box lacrosse and they’re not so set in their ways.”
Goaltending in particular offers the great unknown in Europe.
“From what I’ve heard goalies over there don’t have a whole lot of experience,” said Branko. “It will be quite different for me trying to figure out how everyone over there plays considering most of them do play field.
“I don’t expect it to be the highest level of lacrosse,” Branko added. “However, I’m hoping it’s still a very competitive environment and I just hope that Tibor and I can make some plays together.”
Tibor, a field lacrosse athlete at Simon Fraser University, isn’t far removed from the box game after being drafted to the Senior A Mile High Stars out of Colorado.
Branko, 19, most recently played in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League with the Calgary Chill after previously tending goal for the Okotoks Marauders.
The hometown Junior B outfit is the closest the brothers have come to playing together.
“I’m excited,” Tibor said. “We almost had the chance my last year of junior and his first year of junior, but I decided to stay out in B.C. and play and he stayed here.”
Across the pond they will finally get that chance.