A Canadian squad practices at the University of Denver. Canada meets the U.S. team in the first game of the world championship July 10.

(Photo: CPR/Mike Lamp)

While the soccer world has been focused on the World Cup in Brazil the past few weeks, fans of lacrosse have their eyes on Denver.  

The Federation of International Lacrosse begins its world championship - call it the World Cup of lacrosse - Thursday night. 

The games run through July 19 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. Nearly 40 teams are competing for the title.  

Many of the athletes are staying at the University of Denver, which is home to a solid collegiate program. DU also hosts summer camps for youth players ages 8 to 17, who got to mingle with big league lacrosse players in the days before the world championship.

Team Canada and University of Denver coach Matt Brown looks on as young athletes run passing drills.

(Photo: CPR/Mike Lamp)

Matt Brown, DU's associate head coach for lacrosse and a coach with Team Canada, calls the games "the biggest lacrosse event in the history of our sport."

Teams from around the world have entered the championship games. They've come from as far away as Thailand, Uganda and Latvia to challenge the traditional leaders in the sport, teams from the United States, Canada, and the Iroquois Nation.

But it's only the latest move to make Colorado a western power in a sport typically associated with the eastern U.S. and Canada. In addition to DU, the Air Force Academy also has a strong squad. And two professional lacrosse clubs, the Mammoth and Outlaws, call Denver home.

 Team Uganda watches Canadian players on the field at DU.  It's Uganda's first appearance at the world championship.

(Photo: CPR/Mike Lamp)

"This is a sport that's only going to continue to get bigger," Brown says.

The championship starts with the U.S. taking on Canada Thursday at 7 p.m.