Sean Colfer spoke to many of the USA Ultimate U23 team members about the ongoing efforts in the USA to not only dominate but develop.
Ultimate is now a global sport, as evidenced recently by recognition from the International Olympic Committee. However, one country has more of an effect on the global Ultimate community than any other. It’s the Ultimate equivalent of the Premier League; everyone watches their championships and many of their players are well-known in Ultimate communities around the world. It’s so dominant that their closest neighbours, who might well be the second-best Ultimate nation around, regularly visit to compete against the best. That country is, of course, the United States of America.
Charlie Blair talked to Team India at U23 in London and discussed Women’s Ultimate in India.
The Indian team’s presence at Under 23 World Championships this year was a welcome and wonderful addition to the international stage. Although this was by no means the first national team to represent India, the 2015 Under 23 team is considered the first truly Indian team, after having been trialled and selected on ability alone. Before arriving in London, they had already captured the world’s attention with two short films documenting their inspiring journey: Nicky Smith’s Everybody Plays and the Sundance Short Film Winner, 175 Grams. Thanks to a hugely successful sponsorship campaign and donations from across the world, this team has brought together players from different economic backgrounds, castes and languages, as well as both sexes.
As in most countries, in India the opportunities to participate in sport are largely designed and dominated by boys and men. However, Ultimate’s culture of equality that is part of the Spirit of the Game and promoted by the community not only facilitates an opportunity to provide girls with an outlet for sport where few exist, but is a powerful tool that has the potential to help change attitudes towards women in general.
Sean Colfer looks at the unique situation in Spanish Ultimate
Despite a huge sports-loving population, Spain have struggled to develop into a team that can compete at the level of other European Ultimate countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. Their team at these championships is the first Under 23s team they have assembled, and it was no mean feat. Many of the players are students, and some of the best players eligible are going to Copenhagen and so were unable to come to London.
However, the coaches of the team have seen progress here, and hopefully will be seeing more across the country, both with changes that are being made to how Spanish Ultimate works and with good work going on in some clubs with players at a younger age. Nicky Chapman explains:
“This team didn’t have a lot of time to train together before the tournament. Some of the players have had to get to know each other and how each other play during the tournament which has made it hard, but we are happy with their development. We have been working with them and want them to learn specific things to help them improve, and they’re doing it so far. We’re happy about that. We hope now that some of the kids in Spain will want to play the next under 23 tournament and we can keep going from here.”
Sean Colfer talks to the Austrian Open Coach, Michael Zellinger about the team’s history leading up to London 2015
To say that Austria have exceeded expectations in this tournament would be incongruous with their results in recent seasons.
Their team defeated Great Britain in power pools in Toronto 2013 before GB’s victory in the later replay left them seventh. Their senior team finished 14th at London Calling in 2014. That finish masks how well they did – some of the best club and national teams in Europe, including Clapham, Viksjöfors, two French Open teams and Bad Skid, were also at that tournament.
Charlie Blair reports on the match up of Canada versus USA
“I was just about to say Shira, Jess, touch a disc”, joked one of the US coaching staff as he jogged passed the USA captain and her teammate who were already chucking some strong short range passes to each other on the sideline. With the USA beginning to run away with the game early on at 5-1, they were clearly not going to allow themselves to get complacent in such gusty conditions.
This tenacity was definitely rewarded with Canada only able to take one more point off them before the half. America’s ruthless defence was impressive, hot on the shoulders of the Canadians at all times and dominating the aerial battles. After pressing a first pass turnover on the swing, a huge take from #16 Megan Cousins brought down a hanging disc and the USA went on to convert and take the half 9-2.
With such a staggering deficit for a Canadian side that were currently unbeaten in the tournament, they huddled for a stern word from their coach. In contrast, the USA opted to throw at ease until play resumed.
Sean Colfer reports on yesterday’s power pool matchup in the Open Division
Austria came into this match on a high after their their live-streamed victory over Great Britain on the show pitch – yet another statement of intent after topping their pool (despite an unexpected loss to Belgium). A win would continue their unbeaten run through power pools, and guarantee a top two place ahead of their matchup with the United States on Thursday morning.
Colombia had different concerns. They were chasing a victory to remain in contention for a quarter-final spot. They were winless in the power pool and needed to win here and against Australia, also winless in the power pool, to stand a chance.
Charlie Blair reports on a tight matchup in the Mixed division as the Wild Dogs take on the Philippines
Despite another drizzly start to the day’s play, the first game between the Philippines and South Africa brought the pitches to life. The luscious field, newly dampened with a fresh sheen of rain, invited spectacular athletic plays from both sides.
Those who braved the wet were treated to a stand out performance from South’s Africa #00 Jarrod ‘JB’ Banks, who set the team alight early on. After chasing down an overshot swing pass to score a layout callahan, he brought the Wild Dogs level 3-3. In a game that remained tight to the end, his big plays proved to be game-changing, as another huge layout block on Philippines’ own
end zone line saw South Africa take the half 9-7.