AU Spotlight: Ultimate Frisbee

After a summer dominated by sport, it may be that you believe you’ve seen and heard all that exercise has to offer.  However, with the Euros and the Olympics dominating, many sports have slipped under the radar. Although you probably missed them, this summer also saw the World Championships of Ultimate Frisbee, a sport that divides opinions but one that many of us have had a crack at down the park or have seen via YouTube videos of ridiculous trick-shots.

I’ve been told time and time again that “frisbee is for dogs” or that “it’s full of hippies” and, to many people, Frisbee is certainly not considered cool. I’ll even admit that on occasion I shamefully denied that I played Frisbee and instead decided to say I was competing for the University at a different sport such as football  in order to retain credibility. This is awful, as everyone should have a certain pride in representing the University in everything they do.

But Frisbee, or Ultimate as it should be known (though this promotes further jokes), is in fact a free-flowing, fast-paced and fast-growing sport pushing for greater recognition, a recognition it deserves.  It may be an almost solely amateur recreational activity, but its nature as a self-refereed sport is unique. This provides an expectation that players will not only play by the rules but by principles of the game (the so called “Spirit of the Game”), ensuring disputes are settled to give a true, fair outcome, thus discouraging the “cheat to win” attitude often fostered on a football pitch. This is, however, one of the stumbling blocks to Olympic participation.

University Ultimate is also a particularly close-knit community, not just within the team but also the region due to being forced to discuss on-pitch decisions rationally in order for games to proceed. It is also fast growing and provides many opportunities to compete across the country in Open, Women’s and Mixed events both indoor and outdoor. The training and commitment put in by all players is rewarded with a marked improvement that is visible within the first couple of months of playing.

Although skills may at first be difficult to grasp, the basic rules are simple; you can’t move holding the disc and, by passing the disc to team mates, the aim is to score in an end zone marked at the opposition’s end of the pitch.  The pitch is either a basketball court (indoors) playing five-a-side, or a football pitch outdoors playing seven-a-side so the fitness aspect of Ultimate is taxing but worth it. UoN teams this season actually won mixed indoor regionals in their division and the women achieved success coming fourth outdoors.

The Outdoor open team also qualified for Nationals and came 11th in their division. Team GB are also a top side, coming 2nd to the USA at the Worlds Outdoors this year.

If you fancy giving Ultimate a go, join the club behind Willoughby Hall on Wednesday afternoons at 1.45pm.

David Lang


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