Awareness critical to weekend lacrosse tourney

Matt Underwood tournament gets underway Friday at Panorama Recreation Centre

The 14th annual Matt Underwood tournament will see hordes of midget lacrosse players descend on Panorama Recreation Centre this weekend. Each year the Peninsula Lacrosse Association midget team hosts the tournament more about fundraising and camaraderie than winning.

“Matt played with integrity and sportsmanship and this is more of a sportsmanship tournament. … It’s about a player who represented a love of the game. We need to remember that for our youth,” said parent Debbie Thomson.

The lacrosse mom nursed Underwood, a high calibre player in both box and field lacrosse, before he died of leukemia. He was training for the national field lacrosse team when he got sick.

“He was the nicest guy, selfless. He gave of himself – even when he was ill he coached the kids. He was passionate,” Thomson said.

The First Nations player spearheaded an awareness campaign to recruit Aboriginal bone marrow donors. The campaign recruited hundreds of donors.

“I have a bit of a passion over this cause,” Thomson said. “I really want to raise awareness again of people becoming a bone marrow donor … in his memory.”

Central Saanich Coun. Carl Jensen will be among those getting a close cut during the head shave in arena B at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The tournament runs at Panorama Recreation Centre today through Sunday.