Tourists winding their way around Battery Park this afternoon were treated to an unusual sight among the seagulls pecking at garbage on the sidewalk and men in drag dressed up as the Statue of Liberty: Forty-odd stranded Iroquois lacrosse players, trailed by news crews as they waited to get cleared to travel to England for the World Lacrosse Championships.
The team decided to spend this afternoon taking in Lady Liberty and exploring downtown Manhattan, as bureaucrats in England, America, and Canada determine whether to allow the team to travel to the International Lacrosse Championship, using sovereign passports from the Iroquois Confederacy. After the U.S. cleared the team for travel yesterday, the U.K. has refused to grant the players visas without U.S. or Canadian passports, and team representatives have been negotiating with them throughout the day.
“There is movement in our discussions with the U.K.,” said Chief Oren Lyons in a statement. But he said that he doesn’t know if the issues will be resolved in time for the team to make it to their next game. The team has already forfeited the first match.
Charles Jacobs, a defenseman , said that the team remain optimistic. “We never give up hope. That’s not our style,” he said.
As it is for many of the Iroquois lacrosse players, this trip is the first time Jacobs has been to New York City, though he played lacrosse in Long Island in the past. After the Statue of Liberty, he said he hoped to see the Empire State Building and Ground Zero.
The team has been staying in shape by practicing at Wagner College on Staten Island and at an athletic facility in Oyster Bay, said Denise Waterman, a member of the Nationals’ Board of Directors who is traveling with the team.
“Both communities have been really gracious about hosting us last minute,” she said.
Team members said they found the extended delay in New York tiring, with all the publicity, but they were glad for the opportunity to see the city. One player slipped away to get a vanilla ice cream cone, and others listened to music on headphones as reporters tried to ask questions.
“Coach is trying to keep us out of it,” said Jacobs.