Josh Coxon Kelly looks at the Irish Open Squad’s start to the Under 23 Championships
Featured image courtesy of Andy Moss from Ultiphotos.com
With a landmark 11-9 victory against Australia and a decisive 17-11 win over Belgium, the championships couldn’t have started much better for the Irish Open squad. With the disc moving between hands constantly, the team was playing with enviable flow by the end of their second game, as a crisp upwind flick huck was caught in stride to end the game and the first day’s work in style. “That’s orgasmic” mutters a sideline observer. Granted, it was actually one of the Irish players who said this, but these boys can be forgiven for feeling a little proud about their achievements, even at this early stage.
After a disappointing performance at the 2013 U23 World Championships in Toronto (placing 14th), Head Coach Leo Yoshida has been able to bring back around half of the squad for another go at the world’s best young players. Players and coach alike have been hungry to prove that they could improve on their first outing, and the low player turnover has been a key factor in bringing together a squad to break out of the lower rankings and into the top eight.
Yoshida brings his experience as a player and coach from the Vancouver Ultimate scene, where he was a part of the University of British Columbia team benefitting from close ties with local Furious George players amongst others. This knowledge and experience helped organise a spike in Irish enthusiasm that came out of a tense rivalry between Cork and Trinity College teams in 2008/9. Now having had adequate training time to bring cohesion out of these rivalries, this team enjoys a fluency between Cork, Dublin and Limerick players. Assistant coach Niall Harbourne proudly describes the team as “a real all – Ireland team”.
Charlie Blair gets to know the Chinese Taipei Mixed team
As the Under 23 division embarks on its third World Championship this week, it is incredibly exciting to see new teams from far reaching corners of the globe. Amongst the mixed teams are debuts for India, Philippines and South Africa. However, with Venezuela not representing in London, Chinese Taipei are the only team outside of the established Ultimate nations who also made the journey to Toronto two years ago.
Despite finishing 10th in the overall standings in 2013, Chinese Taipei impressed the watching eyes of the world as they burst onto the scene with a 13-10 upset victory against Australia in their opening game of the tournament. The ramifications of this strong performance against the eventual bronze medallists were really felt according to team coach Michael Hu. He attributes many more kids committing themselves to the sport to this win alone, with thousands inspired after tuning into the live stream from his home country.
Hu himself has been a bastion for the sport since first picking up a Frisbee as a college freshman in Taipei sixteen years ago. Initially however, he represented Chinese Taipei in Guts on the international stage while the interest for Ultimate lagged. Throughout the next decade he competed in three World Guts Championships, finally winning a gold medal in Heilbronn in 2000.
Sean Colfer talks to the South African Wild Dogs about their journey to London
The South African Under 23 Mixed team found support from around the world in their journey to make it to London for these championships. Their Indiegogo campaign raised enough money to pay for the kit for whole squad and made it easier for the student-heavy side to compete for the first time at this level.
Now that they’re here, they intend to make sure people sit up and take notice. In their first game they did just that by taking Japan, who placed third in Toronto, to sudden-death having been down for the whole game.
Much of the team has been playing together for several years in the Ultimate capital of the country, Cape Town, where there has been a strong scene for the better part of 20 years. Coach Jonathan Aronson, 30, has known many of his players for just under four years, having coached them previously.
Josh Coxon Kelly interviews the World U23 Championship GB Coaches.
This July London is host to the World Under 23 Championships 2015. This is the third of the World U23 events, with the first taking place in Florence 2010, the second in Toronto 2013. The addition of the U23 age group is an exciting one for many reasons. Whilst juniors at U20 never failed to impress on the international stage, in comparison many competitors at U23 level are already star performers in their country’s top clubs. The age group also features some of the very best of the many players who join the sport at University/College level, and the exciting athletic game they bring. The youth of this division means games are typically vibrant and passionate battles; entertainment is on the way across all divisions in no small amount!
Like all previous tournaments Great Britain is representing strongly, sending a squad to each division. We got in touch with the coaches to get the low-down on their various approaches, and to introduce the three National programmes to the British Ultimate community and public that will be following them throughout the competition.