No picnic is complete without a game of Frisbee. But Frisbee is gaining popularity as ‘Ultimate’ a non-contact, self-referred and co-ed sport played with a flying disc in India.
Ultimate is a fast-paced game, borrowing elements from other mainstream sports such as soccer, basketball and American football – minus all the contact. The objective of the game is to score points by passing the disc to other teammates until it is caught in the end zone. Unlike many other sports, Ultimate is played without traditional referees; instead, the players themselves mediate the game.
The genesis of the game was found in summer of 1968 when Joel Silver introduced the concept to school children in the US. In 1970, the first official rules were recorded. The popularity of Ultimate spread quickly across the world, taking hold as a free-spirited alternative to traditional organised sports.
The first ever national Ultimate tournament was hosted in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in 2008, where 3 teams had participated. Today there are more than 25 teams across cities in India.
“I play Ultimate every week. The thought of playing Ultimate the next morning takes me through bad days! It helps me to stay fit in a fun way. I have made a lot of friends through Ultimate and we socialise fairly regularly,” says Ganesh Thakur (28) player of Storm Chasers, Mumbai Ultimate Team. He works for a consulting firm in Mumbai.
He further adds, “I feel lucky that I was the first few guys to be part of this wonderful culture. In March 2009, I took part in my first ever national Ultimate tournament in Kodaikanal – Fly Baba Ultimate tournament. Storm Chasers – Mumbai Ultimate team has more than 30 players today.”
Ultimate requires basic minimal equipments such as a flying disc, running shoes and cones/markers. It is played between two teams of 7 players. Substitutions are allowed between points and teams are usually able to have around 20 players on their squad in a major tournament. Ultimate in India emphasise on co-ed teams, imbuing the feeling of equality and respect towards all genders.
– To start play, the players line up at the edge of their respective end zones and the defensive team throws or pulls the disc to the offensive team to begin play. Pulls, are the first throws in a game.
– The disc may be moved in any direction by completing a pass to a teammate. A player catching the disc must stop after a few steps to run out their momentum and can only move their non-pivot foot (left foot for a righty).
– Upon receiving the disc i.e. completion of a legitimate pass, a player has 10 seconds to pass it. Defender/ marker counts till 10 while blocking the throw.
The game can be played on point system or time system, or both. It can be of 10-20 points or for an hour, whichever is earlier, as per the game rules. However, in tournaments 55 minutes is standard time.
“In a cricket-crazy nation, other sports barely get any exposure. And lack of space is the major hindrance in growing the sport. When we started playing Ultimate we had access to an uneven field (not leveled) playing on which could be injurious in the long run. So we decided to move to the Juhu beach, where scarce shore-area, garbage dump, high tides have played a villain on most occasions. We have spoken to various schools and gymkhanas for a playing field; however, football and cricket command priority over other sports. We regularly play at the Khar Gymkhana on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7am. However, in the past we have received permission to access the IIT Mumbai fields and Manish Nagar fields, Andheri (West),” informs Ganesh.
What is the future of this sport in India? “Even though it’s always a challenge competing with other well established sports, sponsors are now waking up to this surge in Ultimate’s popularity, owing to the fresh spirit this game brings to sports. With the number of teams increasing at a rapid pace, I believe Ultimate in India is here to stay and grow,” he asserts.
Some of the major teams active in India are Learning-to-Fly, Falcons, Disc-O-Deewane (Bangalore); Spinergy (Auroville); Chakraa, Stall 7, Blitzkrieg (Chennai); Storm Chasers (Mumbai); Stray Dogs In Sweaters (Delhi); Dishqiya (Hyderabad); Dream Catchers (Ahmedabad)
For queries join Ulimate Frisbee India group on Facebook:
Watch Ultimate video on Youtube:
– Babita Balan