The team from which I have started off this journey is 'Thatte Idli with Kaal Soup' (TIKS)
Below is an introduction to the game of Ultimate and our team`s journey into one of India`s premier ultimate tournament, the 2014 edition of Bangalore Ultimate Open also known in Indian Ultimate circles as BUO
Firstly, the introduction of Ultimate:
"Throw, Run, Catch the disc" in a nutshell describes Ultimate. Ultimate is the sport our team of mostly adventure and fitness enthusiasts plays. It started off relatively late in our life but surely enough, teammates got flying disc intoxicated and are still going strong!
For beginners, Ultimate is a game played with 7 members on each side using a flying disc. It is a no-contact sport where there should not be a contact between opposing teammates during the game. Members should pass along the disc among teammembers in the 100 meter by 37 meter length field without running with the disc and with an aim to get to the opposite endzone which is usually 18 meters across the length of the field. If a team drops the disc or the disc goes out of bounds, there will be a turnover and the opposite team takes offence and tries to move to the opposite endzone.
For more rules and documentation, refer to the official rules at: http://www.wfdf.org/sports/rules-of-play/cat_view/26-rules-of-play/32-ultimate
How Ultimate addiction started:
It all started about a year ago when our college mate Raghav took his dog to throw some discs at cubbon park, which is undoubtedly the best place in Bangalore either for fitness enthusiasts or people who want to have a leisurely walk in. To his surprise he notices some people who are playing disc but with a difference. There was catching, running and throwing involved along with the disc which intrigued him to know more about the sport. And then, it started off with like-minded people initially and by word of mouth to fitness enthusiasts like me and others.
So, Cubbon park became the starting point for flying disc intoxication. Since the practice was on tar roads of cubbon, there was a risk of injury and so the team tried multiple alternatives like National College grounds and other fields. In so many fields or grounds, the team had to face backlash from other
Sports players especially cricket. Some teammates even despised the game of cricket because of this citing reason of why a lazy game like cricket should get priority in most grounds of India. Finally we got a field in National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) with the help of research students who led us a green lush field of NCBS to play Ultimate over weekends. The playing field was lush green and fun to play on with less chances of injuries. On Sunday when NCBS was having a holiday we got the ground to play for as much as we could. There was intensity during play, camaraderie during cooling down exercises and some good food to be had as a team post the game. So, a typical weekend`s mornings were dedicated for Ultimate Frisbee.
During October of 2013, when most of the team had gone to Bhutan for a trekking adventure, the games got discontinued. That is when few of our teammates had gone to Chennai to see an annual Ultimate event, the Chennai Heat tournament. Chennai Heat is a 3-day event during the month of October and happens on the beaches of Chennai where top Ultimate teams vie for top glory at this event. They were amazed by the kind of plays made in that event. During December, some team members also played an HAT tournament in Auroville, Pondicherry where registered individuals are made as a team which is a mix and match of Ultimate players based on their experience and skill levels.
So, the team was getting the feel of how the Ultimate competition in India was. After a small hiatus, the team was back on and playing games as usual. Then during the time of March, there was a talk of Bangalore Ultimate League(BUL) planned. BUL was a preceeding tournament of the big tournament called Bangalore Ultimate Open(BUO) where the participating teams got some match practice and see where they stand in Bangalore.
Bangalore Ultimate League(BUL):
We were just playing amongst ourselves as a team. So, playing other teams was a different learning experience. Our team didn’t even have a team t-shirt to start off with. Other teams which were formed years earlier than us were refined in their game. Their defense and offence were many a times better than ours. Naturally, we began to lose in the league. But in turn made good friends with members of other teams and gradually our game improved. The best part about BUL and Ultimate in general was that there was a ‘Spirit Circle’ after the game where the teams get mixed and form a circle post the game and tell the positives about other team and also the points of improvement in the team. Also, we had a great chance to play the best teams of Bangalore. Then, we gave our game session a break and we worked on points of improvement which other teams in BUL had taught us. So, we practiced our throws, did some drills specific to the game and slowly but surely the results started to follow. Our performances in the subsequent games improved and we even had a tied game against a better team in BUL which was the highest point for our team. 3-4 weeks before the BUO, most teams wanted to practice and BUL came to an abrupt end before all the matches were over.
Bangalore Ultimate Open(BUO) 2014 preparation:
We registered for the BUO 2014 and naturally the team was excited to play in this high profile tournament. Teams from across India were coming. We also knew that we had to play 3 matches a day which was a tough ask considering our fitness levels and also for most of us, this was the first ever tournament.
The last 3-4 weeks before BUO we practiced 4 days a week where we practiced on weekends along with Tuesday and Thursday. We watched YouTube videos of Ultimate games and discussed the same over WhatsApp or during our training sessions. We did drills and fitness practice. Our throws improved, game reading skill improved and we were a better team from past month. Some of us did gym training as well to strengthen our muscles which would lessen the chance of injury. We wished we got another 3 more months for training which may have put us in a better shape for BUO tournament. Since we could not play in NCBS, we also did a practice session 40 km from Bangalore in a farm of our teammate. It was indeed a great experience to play and learn throwing when there was a lot of wind which would alter the range, direction and effectives of a frisbee throw. Since we were a new team and had lost all matches in BUL, we were seeded 23 out of the 24 teams which registered for the tournament.
We were relatively prepared to do well in the tournament. The team wanted to win some matches and punch above our seeding in the matches we can. We were overwhelmed at seeing so many awesome Ultimate players from across India in one venue. There was so much awesomeness to be seen on the field yet in our mind we were determined to play well. Come day 1, and we played a Bangalore based team which we knew very well. Only difference, they were much experienced, well prepared and brilliant in their execution. They won handsomely against us. Although we played well, we had to be on the losing side. Later that day we played a team from Chennai and Pondicherry. Pondicherry team was incidentally previous year’s finalist and the Chennai team happened to be this tournament’s finalist. We played our hearts out and we were applauded in each of our matches by the opposition team.
Day 2 was even tough on us where we had to play 4 matches with little breaks between matches. Day 2 also incidentally was an important day for us as we registered our first win as a team! We were fully excited about the win. We narrowly missed on winning another match later that day. Since we had to play 4 matches on that day, we found it tough to stay energetic for the 4th match in that day. We did so with some difficulty and unwound later that night at the party organized by BUO organizers.
On Day 3, most of the team had severe body pains. The only good thing was that we had only 2 games out of which we won one and lost on the very last point in the second game. The schedule was planned for all of the other teams to witness the finals.
We finished 22 out of the 24 teams in the tournament and a person from our team was selected to be the MVP of the tournament. This was a moment of pride for all of us. The tournament taught us about the competitive nature of Ultimate sport in India and where we need to improve our game.
Post the tournament, the hunger to do well is obviously there. The hunger is also there to improve our game and be a better team in the seasons to come. For most of the team, the team is enjoying the journey of transforming from an amateur team to a better team. Personally, I got an Ultimate family away from my family :)