Lacrosse pioneer Ryan Sweetman believes Great Britain’s debut at the World Games will help his lifelong mission of changing the sport’s image.

The Sale sports star’s colourful existence has seen him manage a trampoline park, reach British No.2 in weightlifting and train to be a firefighter.

The thread connecting it all is the sport of lacrosse, a rough-and-tumble stick and ball sport invented by native Americans, that Sweetman has been fixated on since the age of ten.

A full-time lacrosse coach in Manchester, Sweetman works across primary schools, Manchester Metropolitan University and local clubs to spread the word.

Sweetman sees warts and all how the sport is perceived.

“Most people’s first impression is posh private girls' school,” he says.

“They might have seen the Wild Child movies and American Pie and think it’s a bit soft. My job is to get them away from that and get them thinking differently.

“It’s a fast game, it’s physical, it’s fun. I’ve dedicated myself to saying that for six years and it’s been great to see people’s opinions change.

“I take equipment into schools, I show them YouTube videos, and they realise what an exciting game it is.”

Sweetman’s biggest tool for enthusing the next generation has become ‘Sixes’ - a new, six-player format of the traditional ten-a-side game that is vying for inclusion in the Olympics.

It’s slicker, quicker and simpler than any lacrosse you’ve seen before and makes its debut on the global stage at next month’s World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I love sixes,” said Sweetman. “It brings all the good things about the sport together and makes it really enjoyable.

“As a coach, I particularly value it for the generation coming through. You need fewer players, it’s less specialised and everyone plays in every position.”

Sixes is to lacrosse what The Hundred is to cricket although according to Sweetman, the sport has largely embraced change.

“There were a few naysayers who want it traditional and don’t quite see it for what it is,” he said. “But a lot of people have changed their minds.

“It’s what coaches want to coach and it’s the future of the game. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of kids playing so clubs are having to merge.

“If you’ve got sixes, everyone keeps their own teams, they’re learning how to play attack and how to play defence, and everyone’s happy.”

Sweetman will be a key part of the Great Britain team appearing at the World Games for the first time, hoping to reap the rewards that Sixes offer.

The midfielder, who plays for Brooklands LC, turned to weightlifting to stay active during lockdown.

It went so well that he qualified for January’s National Championships with a personal best lift of 158kg, finishing seventh.

“Team sports were decimated and I lost a bit of direction with my training,” he said. “I wasn’t that interested in lacrosse because there wasn’t much going on.

“Weightlifting was knocking on the door, I enjoyed it and you’re always striving to hit the next weight. I enjoyed training for it and I was on my own.

“It was tough coming back into lacrosse for sure, because I was fit but only for weightlifting. My endurance scores have now shot up four times.

“Staying involved with British Lacrosse kept me interested and I’m fitter, faster and stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m a more complete athlete now.”

For the sport of lacrosse as a whole, the dream is a place on the Olympic programme for Los Angeles 2028, a journey that starts at the World Games.

“Being in the Olympics in any format would be incredible,” Sweetman said. “Every team has a chance to win in this format. It’s fast and thrilling and people are starting to see that.”

British Lacrosse is the national coordinating body for men’s and women’s elite lacrosse in Great Britain with a vision to inspire and generate enthusiasm, participation and pride in lacrosse across the country. For more information, visit