Ravi Vasudevan talked to the coaches after a fiery game between Belgium and Colombia in Men’s power pools resulted in a spirit timeout – here’s the perspective from both sides.
Colombia and Belgium met up today in the Men’s power pools. Belgium have been on the rise in the last few years and playing an established Ultimate powerhouse in Colombia was something that they were really looking forward to. However, the Belgians did not have as much fun as they were hoping in a match against the South Americans. The game was a near perfect affair with Colombia breaking once and holding the whole game. This made the final result of 13-11 for Colombia a very impressive display of Ultimate. However, there was a darker side to the rest of the game.
Coach Yves Mans told me that Belgium were expecting physicality from the Colombians but things got incredibly out of hand with two Belgian players getting seriously injured. It seemed to them that the Colombians were initiating a lot of contact to stop key players from cutting and initiated some very dangerous play whenever Belgium put up a high disc to one of their big receivers. Close to half time, Belgium called a spirit timeout and called on WFDF to bring Game Advisors into the game. This did make things a little better, however, there were still a lot of complaints from the Belgians that what was going on here was “not Ultimate”. Defensive standout Joren Sanders of Belgium was one of the injured players and said that he has never seen anything like this in his long career in Ultimate. Mans did add that the offence from both teams was extremely impressive and it was a real pity that such a great performance from both teams was tainted by the dangerous play of the Colombians.
The Colombian coach, Andres Angel, also gave me his perspective on the game. He said he had been scouting Belgium and considers this type of European team his “direct rivals” in terms of level of the team. He complimented Belgium on their big throws and great receivers and really enjoyed the way that the Belgians played throughout the game.
“I think one of the things that we are working on from a few years ago in Colombia is improving our spirit,” he said. “We know that we have made some mistakes before this tournament in previous tournaments. We really feel that when they were not able to contain our quickness that they were using some calls to contain us.” He also mentioned that the teams can sometimes misinterpret calls and types of play and that seemed to happen on both sides. However, he did say that Colombia still has “a long way to grow” when it comes to spirit. He went on, saying that “they perceived our play on high discs as dangerous and we have to work on that.” To continue on that he thinks the overly physical play is also “a cultural thing. We have had some trouble with calls in Colombia and have implemented observers and that has worked great.” The physical play he saw in this game was “normal for a Colombian game.” However, he was very, very sad that some players got injured in the game.
This can often be the case at WUGC. Teams can interpret the rules in different ways in their home countries and these different interpretations can really clash since these teams have never played each other before. Again, this was a great game Ultimate-wise and it is a shame that the spirit went the way it did. I can only hope that the teams can at least learn something from this experience to have some better games in the future. Colombia gave Belgium seven in spirit and Belgium gave Colombia five.