The 2018 World Under-24 Ultimate Championships will be held in Perth, Australia. While January 2018 seems like a long time away, planning started behind the scenes months ago and the preparation will begin in earnest on October 22, when the first trials to make the GB squad take place near Liverpool. Sean Colfer spoke to three of the coaches involved – Sion Scone, the Open coach, and Jenna Thomson and Ben Weddell, the Women’s coaches – about what they’re looking for at the trials as part of the first in a series investigating what this cycle means in the short and long term for Ultimate in the UK.
Martyn Brown brings us the second piece in his coverage of the 2015 Mixed Tour
It’s safe to say that Cardiff will be a tournament most people won’t forget. Whilst Saturday was challenging, it was no more difficult than the conditions we experienced in Nottingham or Cheltenham for Mixed Tours 2 & 3 respectively last year. However, Sunday delivered some of the most difficult weather that we have had to play in for a number of years with wind, rain and mud in plentiful supply.
Despite the conditions the games got under way in earnest. Pool-play threw up few surprises with both GB teams topping their respective groups. The GB U23 teams also impressed, improving on seeding and giving themselves a chance to move up the order next tour. Ireland Mixed comfortably topped Pool C after a convincing victory over Thundering Herd 1. Pool D provided the most interesting results with Shiny Happy Meeple comfortably topping the group ahead of both Black Eagles and Brighton Breezy, with returning players helping to show that they are one of the strongest contenders at Tour this season.
Sion ‘Brummie’ Scone gives some wise words to those considering the next GB senior cycle…
The application forms to run the GB squads are coming in, so I felt the need to write about some of my experiences. I was involved in running the GB Open trials in 2010, and GB World Games trials in 2012-13. Allow me, then, to share some of the things I’ve learned.
|Mark Penny playing for GB at WUGC in Japan. Photo courtesy of nzsnaps.com.|
Britain’s best players are spread across the country, dotted around in a variety of different clubs and areas. We are very regionalised around the major cities and universities, with small pockets of talent everywhere. For example, Josh Coxon Kelly, Sam Vile, Matt ‘Whippet’ Ford, Kate Rae and Charlie Blair all represented at elite level and came out of the first generation of a single tiny ultimate community in Kent. Should GB not be trying to take advantage of these small pockets of talent that exist in our country to strengthen our National side, without those players having to migrate to the most dominant club? Choosing one club to represent us is confining ourselves to picking our players from one part of the country. We should be thinking that as our country isn’t as big as the USA, or Canada we are at an advantage! Might it not be the case that if it were geographically possible for them to conceivably travel and train together, these nations might also prefer to send an “allstar” team?
Next week teams will compete for the right to call themselves the greatest Ultimate club in the world. Now only a number of days away, excited qualifiers from 40 different countries and 161 different teams will be adding the finer touches to their preparation for this momentous opportunity at time of publishing – getting their bodies and minds perfectly ready to take on the rest of the world. At the height of elite non-commercial ultimate the WUCC held this year in Lecco, Italy is only challenged in terms of prestige by international competitions that occur between the World Club years. Players and coaches will still talk with a hushed reverence of Maribor, Southampton, Sakai, Vancouver as they share stories of their brushes with international glory or defeat, and our whole community is undeniably galvanised by the prospect of GB being represented and competing at Ultimate on the highest international stage.
The EUC and WUGC not only carry an extra weight with the privilege and national pride bound up in their medals, but also arguably present a more tantalising prospect for underdog ultimate nationals given the single-team restriction placed on entrants. With only a single entrance from USA, Canada, Japan, or any other of the growing list of world class Ultimate nations (Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Colombia…), the elusive quarter and semi final brackets are notably more viable for the underdog. The most recent example of this comes from close to home with our very own GB open squad making a first ever appearance in a world final in the recent summer of 2012, in Sakai. Whilst the defeat to USA may have been a decisive one, the GB Open performance in Japan provides lasting inspiration for up and coming British players whose dreams of international success were shown to be more viable than perhaps we had all thought a few summers ago.
It is undeniable that London seems to gravitationally attract a huge portion of young people in the UK whether for career, financial or other reasons. This effect is only going to be further exacerbated for our young sportsmen and women by the high percentage of the Ultimate community who learn and/or mature as players at their universities, and subsequently seek out employment in the larger cities. The country is evidently lopsided population wise, and this as well as the bustling London scene is drawing more and more talent to bolster the already dominant London clubs. Yet, despite this weighting towards the capital, top players from clubs across the country consistently prove at tour and GB selection processes that they can bring their own individual dominance over others from further down the London rosters.
The last catch in Lecco will be followed by joy, desolation, celebrations and relaxation for many who move past the pinnacle of their seasons. For some however, it won’t be long after this that the focus turns to EUC’15, WUGC 2016, and the trialling, training and competitive journey of international ultimate that swiftly rises to the height of priority. Should we reassess our current system, and would doing so lead to short term, long term improvement, neither or both? Should we be focusing on top level or grass roots? Should such questions even be imposed on those who make up these teams, and should these people have the responsibility to do both? Let’s start the discussion…
Sion “Brummie” Scone discusses what it takes to be a team player.
Here’s a little experiment. I want you to close your eyes (not yet, keep reading) and picture yourself playing ultimate in the future, playing at some event that you are going to be working hard for, playing in the “dream game” that defines your season, maybe your playing career. It could be coaching your student team to the regional “Game to Go” match for the first time, maybe getting onto a big club or national team, maybe playing a big final. Allow yourself a good few minutes, play that over in your mind, allow the vision to develop.
|Sam Bowen captaining GB Open at the recent World Under 23 Championships. Photo courtesy of Nancy Rawlings.|
tSG: People are not unreasonably making comparison between this and the recent US NexGen project – is it related to this or inspired by it in any way?